Jesus only had to spend 40 days in the desert and 3 days in the tomb before his resurrection. We’ve been cloistered for more than a year, and even with a dose of the vaccine we spend between 2 weeks and 2 months in the “tomb” of waiting for immunity. I received the first dose of the vaccine on Good Friday, and it feels like I’m waiting for Easter.
We’re all waiting. We spent a long winter in the desert, seeing deaths and illnesses mount, watching loved ones struggle from afar. Now we’re in the tomb; we’re not free yet, and we don’t know if we will be. But the promise of resurrection is on the horizon, and in three short days we’ll rise anew.
What is life like after being resurrected from the dead? Jesus floated around for some dramatic appearances before zapping into space. For most of us, although we’ll return to a life that may look similar to pre-pandemic times, we’re now forever transfigured by our experience.
A year in the desert is transformational. For many like me, our lives and careers stopped. We turned to long-distance friends and solitary entertainment. Some were able to slowly return to a sense of normalcy, although I do not envy them. Given the time to pursue whatever I’d like, I was forced to question what my purpose truly is. Stuck in the desert of meaninglessness, what do we choose to pursue?
I’ve found that external affirmation is hugely important psychologically. It is the primary thing I’ve been missing, as the external signifiers of worth and achievement have been stripped away. I’ve also realized that, although it feels good, doing things for the praise and respect of others is fundamentally a hollow pursuit! Staking one’s own meaning on the opinion of others is at best empty and at worst self-destructive.
The desert reminds us how small we are, how vast the sandy expanse of life is, how little the wind or sun cares for our very existence. The tomb reminds us that darkness and nothingness are pervasive and eternal. Resurrection teaches us that we can find joy in existence despite these things. Resurrection doesn’t provide us with meaning to live, but it does afford us the opportunity to enjoy the search for meaning, or, at the very least, enjoy the lack of meaning.
I’m feeling optimistic this Holy Week. It usually has that effect on me, but even without being in church in person I’m still buoyed by hope. Happy Easter.