There are moments in time in which our hearts are at once captured by the intensity of yearning and the delight of satisfaction, moments when our hearts are penetrated by the new which seems yet so ever familiar and true. New vistas of heart and soul open before us, and yet we know this is our place. These still points of the turning world both cast us out into the light and bring us home.
We know these still points: the bliss of wedded lovers united in giving and receiving, called to a more transcendent union. The taking of the infant into the father’s hands, at once falling in love with this beautiful girl whom he has just met and yet knows from of old. The heartache of the coffin that calls the heart to farther shores. At once new and known, the heart is filled and yet longs for more, the joy followed by an unmet ache, the sorrow buoyed by the promised hope.
Were not our hearts burning within us? is a question for such nostalgia. This breaking of the bread calls us to a new experience of the familiar Voice. We know the longing, and the revelation calls us onward. We rush home to tell the news.
Pax vobiscum. The raised god blesses. And again: Eirini himin. See the hands, and feet. Bring some fish to eat. Ghosts do not have flesh and bones. And yet, this is new. Flesh and bones do not pass through locked doors.
Every year it is the same: Who is the King of Glory? And the doors burst open, the light pours forth. The heavenly powers walk among us unseen, though not unfelt. The children sleep in their Easter best in these earliest hours of the Day of days, slumbering in the midst of families and of worlds. Pax vobiscum. They rest inexplicably as the song thunders around them from our hearts: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.
Every year it is new. Never do we hear it the same:
If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast. If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived therefor. If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour. And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts. And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering.
Every year it is old and calls us to new vistas: the Joy illuminates, gives hope, conquers fear, makes one reckless for Christ. Every year we are called to the same battle and given the same victory, and yet have conquered new ground and come to new graces. Every year we bear our wounds of new and old sins, and yet have been cleansed, bound up with oil and eaten the Flesh and drunk the Blood of the only Good Samaritan.
Christos anesti gives such light to our hearts that they are warmed with an inner fire which we are quite certain will burst forth from our chests and light the candles we hold. We have taken of the Light that has not been overcome, and we feel it may spring forth from within to light all our world.
All of this is new, and yet old. We know it. We have been here before. It is our world, with the same contours the same joys and sorrows, the same hurts and healings. And yet it is like nothing we have ever seen before, ever new, ever mysterious, infinite grace. We are called from our homeland to another, and yet it is a patrimony we already know.
And then the lights and candles are extinguished. The feasting has ended. We are come home to the brick and mortar which houses our mortal flesh. We are satisfied and sleepy. Joyful, and a little sad. Satisfied, and yet longing for more. When we see it, we will know it. For we have been there before.