Observing the Holy Days of April

"Seek joy in God and peace within; seek to rest in the good, the true and the beautiful. It is the only resting place that also allows us to bear the darkness. Hard and soft, difficult and easy, pain and ecstasy do not eliminate one another, but actually allow each other. They bow back and forth like dancers." Fr. Richard Rohr

The month of April is marked by holy days for the three monotheistic religions. For Christians, the Lenten season culminates with Holy Week and Easter Sunday. For our Jewish neighbors, Passover occurs. And for our Muslim friends, Ramadan begins towards the end of the month. In all of our observances, we contemplate the experience of suffering. Our faiths provide a larger context from which to draw strength in these challenging times. Below are my reflections from a Christian perspective.

Bearing the darkness. In this season of Holy Week for Christians we enter into the dark, the hard and the difficult themes of life. Our journey takes us deep into suffering and death. We start with Ash Wednesday’s acknowledgement, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” With the solemn services of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, we delve further into our fear of the pain that is an inevitable part of life and the acceptance of our own mortality.

This year will be an unforgettable Holy Week. We have all been in distress, perhaps as never before, living with the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has seemed like an endless season of sorrow. What does resurrection mean in this time? Fr. Rohr encourages us to “seek what is good and true and beautiful.”

It seems like a leap of faith to look for joy and peace when there is so much sadness and strife around us. But there is joy and peace to be found—in the gentle warmth of the spring sun, the beauty of new blossoms, the kindness of strangers. May we continue to seek joy in God, who promised us that the darkness will not overcome the light.

In love and hope,

Jan Musgrove Elfers
EMO President

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