Grace and nature sometimes cooperate with each other. Easter season is a good example. Irish spring erupts in a riot of flowers and blue skies and sun-dappled seas so symphonic that you can’t be unhappy even if you try to be unhappy. We leave the tomb whether we like it or not and, as the poem says “all the world is crammed with God”. At other times, receiving grace is an uphill slog up a muddy mountain on a rainy day with an inner voice complaining, “why are we doing this”? The answer is the Paschal Adventure. We want to be at the top of the mountain when the skies clear as predicted by our deep conviction that Easter is a reality. We also want to practice the highest human art of not letting passing feelings dictate the quality of our days.
Easter, like love, is in the will more than feelings. We act as if we are Eastered until we are Eastered in fact. The two extremes of synchronicity and asynchronicity to grace are the two extremes. We usually find ourselves in some shade of light or shadow and have to deal with it courageously and creatively. Suppose Easter or even Christmas erupts on Good Friday? Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Don’t dismiss the dark or gray horse either until you discover and receive the gifts they bring.
This relates to Pentecost as well. Ron Rolheiser talks about paschal death and life in The Holy Longing. We start living the resurrected life first and later receive the spirit for the life we are already living. The cycles of effort and effortlessness permeate our entire lives. This happens in sports, studies, careers, marriages, community life, and prayer. Asceticism, agony, and mysticism all have their place. We try, die and rise, becoming fully human and partly divine.
Br. Thomas Crutcher