April to me is a bittersweet month. We celebrate my sister’s birthday, yet it is also the month 9 years ago that our mother died unexpectedly.
In grief, we are drained of the joy in life. We may feel empty and isolated, disconnected from the rest of the world. Much of what had once engaged or enraged us suddenly becomes meaningless.
That profound sense of loss is certainly the tone of Good Friday. So why is this day deemed “good”?
Mythologist, Joseph Campbell pointed out the double meaning of Christ’s atonement for our sins. In that word, he sees “at one”-ment. This is the recognition that we share identity with one another, with nature and with the divine.
As mortal creatures with human bodies, we are born, we grow, we live and we die. We are part of the cycle of life and death.
We are also part of a more profound spiritual and emotional dynamic – the cycle of love. Recognizing this lifted me from the depths of my own grief. When I looked into the beautiful faces of my own children, I realized that I saw them with the same love with which my mother loved us. In spite of our imperfections, we were loved. She saw the best in us even when we could not see it, and through love, she brought out the best in us.
That love – unconditional and undeserved – is a gift of grace. It transcends our individual needs, egos and self-interests. It transcends cultures. It transcends our own lives.
This Easter, we find ourselves within the cycle of love as my dear father-in-law is supported in palliative care. All members of our extended family have been graced with his kindness and love, and all participate in supporting him with love at the end of life.