by Father Mark Goldasich
This past week has been a time for telling the most important stories of our faith: the accounts of Christ’s passion and death, the events at the Last Supper, major milestones in salvation history (from creation to the Exodus) and the early experiences of the resurrection.
While the following story from Len Sullivan of Tupelo, Mississippi, can’t hold a candle to those above, it can help direct our lives over these next seven weeks. Here’s what Sullivan says:
In the mid-1980s, my family moved to northern Saskatchewan to start a church. As a church planter, part of my support was funded by the local mission. Most months were financially difficult.
One week in April, when the ground was still frozen and snow covered, we were down to a few dollars in the bank. Our usual reaction was to look for our own solution. This time, however, in a stroke of faith, I went before God and told him that we needed eggs, break and milk. I would wait on him.
That afternoon, a man came to my little fix-it shop with a leaky teakettle.
He said, “I know I could get another, but it’s my favorite kettle. Please fix it.”
In minutes, the job was done, and I didn’t even charge him for it. But he pulled out a $10 bill and insisted that I take it. It was enough to buy a gallon of milk, a dozen eggs and a loaf of bread.
As he left, with a bit of pride in my faith decision, I thanked God, to which he replied, “Don’t you wish you had asked instead for half a beef?” (Found in Craig Brian Larson and Phyllis Ten Elshof’s “1001 Illustrations That Connect.”)
As we come to celebrate Easter each year, I feel that many people, like the man in the story above, cheat themselves out of something wonderful and abundant. For many, Easter seems to consist of one 24-hour day. Some might celebrate the octave — eight days — of Easter, but very few will take the time to enjoy the Easter season, which is 50 days long, lasting through Pentecost on May 24 this year.
It’s kind of strange that we keep the fasting season more readily than the feasting one. What’s up with that? Judging from the confessions that I heard during Lent, we could all use what Easter has to offer. So many folks (me, included) struggle with being impatient. At least part of the problem is that we’re trying to do too much in too little time . . . and our reservoir of patience quickly runs dry.
Easter is a time for rejoicing, a time for new life, a time for hope. It’s an invitation from the Lord to restore our sense of rest and “re-creation.” We’re called to imitate the renewal that we see all around us in nature.
But, practically speaking, how can we do that?
A number of people have a bucket list — items that they’d like to accomplish before they “kick the bucket.” Many of those things are larger wishes along the lines of “visit Australia,” “run a marathon” or “write a novel.” What I propose is something much more modest and specific to this time of year: Create a “basket” list. Just as an Easter basket is filled with treats, I’d recommend we treat ourselves each day of the Easter season to something that will bring a smile to our face, restore balance in our life, and bring us peace of heart. These items shouldn’t be chores or unfinished projects — only fun items are allowed! Try to incorporate a variety of items, ranging from those that take about 10 minutes or so to something that lasts a whole day or weekend.
Some categories that I find helpful are: movies to see or rent; books to read; restaurants or menu items to try; local attractions to visit; meals out with friends; sporting events, like baseball games and soccer matches; and “condiment” letters to friends that I’d like to “ketchup” with. Also on the list are things that don’t fall neatly into any specific category: taking a stroll through a park, stargazing on a clear night, or going bowling or playing miniature golf.
Don’t cheat yourself of the joy and new life the Lord brings by only celebrating Easter for one 24-hour day. Make a season of it this year. It’s the only way to truly become a “basket” case