Last Sunday was Easter Sunday. There are so many different ways that people experience such a day. Regular church goers look forward to choirs and trumpets and bold proclamation. Christmas and Easter folks show up and look sheepish as they enter the church. Atheists may sit at Peet's or Starbucks and sip there coffee like they do on any other morning. My category is that of pastor, and my personal experience may not be normative, but at least for me, I find that Easter morning has me taking a big, deep breath and saying to myself "You can DO this! Holy Week is almost complete."
I'm a solo pastor and this year I have no seminary or pastoral intern and I am coming off a year which included the beginning of a Doctor of Ministry program, a diagnosis of uterine cancer, surgery and a staph infection, and the decision to sell our house and downsize. Needless to say, there is just a bit going on in my life. During Holy Week we have a Maundy Thursday service with a nearby church, an Ecumenical Good Friday Service and two services on Easter Sunday. The first service on Easter is sunrise. Now, those of you who know me at all, know that there is almost no situation that would have me rise before 7 a.m. voluntarily unless I was assured that I was going to meet Jesus face to face in the flesh! So, as the alarm buzzed its happy buzz at 5 a.m., I told myself once more, "You can DO this!" Once I got to Diablo Valley Ranch and looked out over the Diablo Valley, I was and always am extremely glad that someone thinks it is a good idea to do this, and that I comply. Our service was held at a ranch where people are working on recovery from addiction. The combination of church members and ranch residents is truly awe inspiring....it's resurrection happening right in front of us!
The second service happened at 10:30 a.m. and I can't say that there was anything that stood out as unusual or remarkable. After a longer than usually fellowship time and some tidying up in the office, I left to find myself some lunch. I have not seemed to be able to communicate fully how I am not looking for socializing or family time on the afternoon of Easter Sunday, so with some reservation, I skipped the family gathering in Hayward, CA and took some time to rest and recover. This is when my Easter got more interesting. I wanted sushi but every restaurant in town was closed, so I decided to drop in on one of our local pizza restaurants. There was almost no one in the place and I thought I'd just have a quiet little lunch and be on my way. But NOOOOOOOO! I sat at the bar, which probably put me in the position to be engaging with people a bit more than if I sat at a table by myself. I positioned myself in front of the big screen to watch the Giants game. A woman walked in with her two sons and one of them began to talk to me about baseball. He was quite engaging and very knowledgeable. They got a phone call and left, but within five minutes the mom returned by herself. She sat down next to me at the bar and started to tear up. As is often the case, the internal conversation in my head is with God or kismet or fate asking, "Why can't I just be left alone? After all, it's Easter Sunday and I've been working for you ALL week long!? Can't a girl get a break?" It turns out we had a pretty deep and meaningful conversation about life, divorce, the body, prayer, etc. As she was about to leave, I asked her what she was going to do that day to take care of herself. She said she was going to go to a party with some friends and I told her I really hoped that wherever it was that she was going she could truly be there. In retrospect, I suppose I was talking to myself.