Make no mistake: if he rose at all
It was as His body;
If the cell’s dissolution did not reverse, the molecule reknit,
The amino acids rekindle,
The Church will fall.
It was not as the flowers,
Each soft spring recurrent;
It was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the
It was as His flesh; ours.
The same hinged thumbs and toes
The same valved heart
That—pierced—died, withered, paused, and then regathered
Out of enduring Might
New strength to enclose.
Let us not mock God with metaphor,
Analogy, sidestepping, transcendence,
Making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded
Credulity of earlier ages:
Let us walk through the door.
The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
Not a stone in a story,
But the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of
Time will eclipse for each of us
The wide light of day.
And if we have an angel at the tomb,
Make it a real angel,
Weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair, opaque in
The dawn light, robed in real linen
Spun on a definite loom.
Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
For our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
Lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are embarrassed
By the miracle,
And crushed by remonstrance.
John Updike, “Seven Stanzas at Easter”
I love this poem, and this year in particular, it is really resonating with me. I suppose every year, we need a real Easter—not a metaphor, or a theory, or a concept—but this year in particular, I am eagerly awaiting a miracle, a real miracle, the miracle: the miracle that changes everything.
I don’t know about you, but I am ready for a reset. Yes, COVID is still with us, and probably always will be; yes, we all bear the scars of the past two years—on our bodies and on our hearts; and yes, the fear of the future and the fear of the unknown looms large.
All of this is true, and yet.
The tomb is empty. Christ is raised. Hope and joy flow freely and abundantly, and our new life awaits. This is not just a thought, an idea—this is reality.
It is his resurrected flesh, and ours. Flesh that is scarred but not vanquished.
It is his new strength, and ours. Strength enough to face an unknown future—not alone, but together.
Let us gather the courage that has been given us. Let us take the words of the angel to heart. No remonstrance, no regrets.
Let us, with Christ, walk through the door.