Shelter in Hope An Easter Conclusion to the Ignatian "Into the Cave" Pandemic Retreat

When the Stone Won't Roll

As we transition from Lent into Easter, we find ourselves still confined within the tomb; the stone won't roll away. How can we make sense of an Easter season still so saturated by Lenten imagery?

We can dare to hope. We can encourage others to do the same.

Read: The Appearance to the Disciples in Jerusalem

While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.
He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.
"And [behold] I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Not Yet Pentecost

Jesus appears to us, too. And, like the disciples, so many of us are isolated, hidden away in our rooms unable to go out and encounter the Risen Christ on the road. Jesus comes to us with hope, inviting our questions, worries and even our lack of faith. He invites us to touch his wounds.

As he said to the disciples, so he says to us: "I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." Jesus missions us to carry the Good News of God's love throughout the world. But Jesus knows - as we do - that such a mission must look different in this moment. The disciples were instructed to stay put; so, too, are we.

But Jesus never said that work of the Gospel was to be put on hold until Pentecost, until the disciples could leave that upper room. No - the work of God's hope begins in this very moment. Who among us lacks the privilege, wealth, community and security that we may enjoy? Can we lift them up during this time? Can we roll away their stone?

"I Can Carry You."

The "Holy Koinonia" icon from the Community of Bose depicts a younger person carrying an older person.

We all carry burdens, both heavy and light. In moments of crisis, those burdens can feel amplified. We look around at the world and see the heavy burdens of others, too. It all feels overwhelming. Some carry burdens we simply can not understand. How can we make sense of suffering? How can we even attempt to help?

It is simply not our place to carry those burdens. Each of us are given our own cross to bear: the loss of a job, the suffering of a loved one, even something as simple as flexibility to a new routine. Simone helped Jesus carry his cross; he didn't carry it for him. We find ourselves faced with a similar moment, unable, in many cases, to carry another's cross, another's burden. Perhaps we lift up - we carry - that person instead.

We return to the Lord of the Rings one final time. Frodo still carries the One Ring and is nearly upon Mount Doom, the volcanic mountain into which he must cast the ring and destroy it. His burden is heavy and he finds himself unable to go on.

Good thing he didn't make the journey alone.

Who can we carry during these Easter days? Whose stone can we roll away? Who might we ask for help?

We might consider making a donation to a worthy organization or cause. We might give blood or help pack meals, if we are able to safely. We might simply call a friend or a family member and be a source of comfort.

Perhaps when we help one another to roll away our stones, we'll find we've made a new way forward, a bridge over which we can all cross together into a new, resurrected world.