“It’s spring and I am blind.” I saw that written once upon the frayed lapel of a sightless beggar. That line struck me today, Easter Sunday, as I sat looking at our city on an unbelievably beautiful spring day. Easter in a wicked and holy city. It’s something to think about. Our city of so many gods, of narcissism and generosity, of drink and sex and Christ. How aware are we of spring and resurrection? Bad enough to be blind, but to be blind in spring! Bad enough to be lacking hope, but to be so hopeless at Easter! A religious holiday in a pagan city, it’s a strange mix. A mixed city it is, full of Pan, full of pride and pain, peace and promise. Church bells still ring here and people still pray.
Many still laugh and share and promise love and fidelity. Sincerity still stalks and there is still some self-sacrifice and some hope that is more real than despair. But it is all so mixed. Nothing comes pure, not today, not in this city. Cynicism, selfishness, hedonism, myopia, infidelity and self-preoccupation are stirred by the same straw that stirs hope. If Christ came out of a tomb in this city, would he be hugged or mugged, adored or ignored? Would he be surprised by the hockey playoffs? He certainly would have much to do. He would, I suspect, take a stroll along our streets. Perhaps he might even try a seven-mile walk from the Coliseum to St. Albert. It’s hardly the road to Emmaus, but he would find some disciples along the road. Like his first disciples, at that first Easter, he would find them talking both disillusionment and hope (when they weren’t talking hockey). If he gave them a few prods with the Scriptures he could, I am sure, burn holes inside of them. That’s a good sign.
Some would, I suspect, still be able to recognize him in the breaking of the bread. But how many? How many, like Magdala, still search for him at dawn on a Sunday morning? I looked at eyes today and they gave me some answer to that question. They didn’t focus too sharply, in one direction or another; cast down in prayer, cast up in hope, cast around in the hope of finding someone to pray or play with during spring’s mating season, lifeless in resignation, bitter in hurt, restless in search, closed in tiredness, sightless in preoccupation, they mirrored our city, its narcissism, its proclivity for distraction, its tiredness, and also its goodness, its searching and its hopes. Spring and resurrection, today was a day for both. Spring, the silent painter, was at work. By night, all was much greener. God, the silent leaven, was also at work. Of course, the Lord of the resurrection found his task more difficult than spring’s.Unlike the trees and the grass, the folks do not co-operate so automatically. God has to find openness in our awareness and in our freedom in order to fill us with new life, new blossoms, new warmth.
I think the trees and grass fared better today in being responsive to spring than we, the folks, fared in being aware of the resurrection or of spring. We weren’t too responsive to either. We all got up late, long after sunrise and never quite fully awoke. We ate our brunches distractedly, lounged in the afternoon, and waited for dinner, drinks and the hockey game. Spring and Easter were bursting around us, but, despite all that newness, they went basically unnoticed. I thought about spring and Easter today and tried to look at them. I realized how blind I was: “It’s spring and I am blind! It’s Easter and I am heavy in spirit! Everything is new and I am too distracted to notice! God is bursting forth and I am lounging, distracted, preoccupied, half-asleep! Resurrection is all around and I am feeling old!”
It’s a strange irony, a strange sickness. Are we horribly unfaithful or just too pressured? Are we sinful or merely wounded? Undeniably we are not awake. I wanted to tear scales from my eyes, preoccupations from my mind and heart. I wanted an angel of God to come with a heavenly trumpet and, literally and symbolically, blast the hell out of us, blast us all out of our lethargy, narcissism and asphyxiating preoccupations. I wanted God to wake me up, let me notice it is Easter, it is spring. The very sap of God is flowing through trees and veins and hearts and spirits. Fiat…and let us notice! Another blind beggar I once saw was sporting a sign which read: “Long Time, No See!” It’s spring and the resurrection, but for me, for us, may a compassionate and busy God understand and have patience and mercy, it has been too long a time of no see!