It’s hard for me to be happy again around Easter. Jesus just got done being dead, we just got done mourning! And now we are supposed to be happy? I wrote about this before, but I see Jesus continuing to die and be resurrected — continuous births and deaths of Christ.
Look. We can make statements later, as we try to figure out what sacrifice means, that Jesus was beautiful in his deformity, and the blood turned into roses. But I’m betting the early companions didn’t see it that way. We can play this game all afternoon — what did Jesus do? what did he think? what would his companions really think? — and get nowhere. But the death was real. It IS real. And the survivors had to pick up the pieces and figure out what Jesus meant to them. It doesn’t seem like sunshine and hymns. It seems messy. Even the Resurrection seems messy to me. What about knowing your dear friend or son or teacher is dead, and then suddenly seeing him again? And they didn’t really know that he was conquering life and all, that was added in later Christianity. His companions wanted Jesus to stick around with them as long as possible. So when he left again, ascended into Heaven, it seems like they were at some sort of loss.
Do you know that in Spanish Catholic writings, there are stories of Mary being with Jesus at the cross, every step of the way — even her being crucified on the cross instead of Jesus? It’s not a one-day mentality, this sort of loss of a child. It’s not a puzzle that can be solved by Easter Sunday. It’s the continuous rebirth and rebirth of grief — of the survivors — and of (re)telling the story of Jesus…stories of which began to form Christianity.
I struggle with the crucifixion as a metaphor — but I think it boils down to cycles. The other thing the crucifix offers is hope. The how-dare-you rise above that shit! How dare you come back swinging. So while I don’t think Jesus conquered death and created us all in a New Covenant as Christians, he taught us how to remember, mourn at our own pace, and hold out a little hope.