As a child, I understood very little of what Easter really meant, beyond what it meant to me. As a child, it meant decorating eggs, and the wonder of baskets of candy—a delight forbidden to us the rest of the year. What does a child know of sin beyond being caught for trying to get away with what you really want? What does a child know of darkness, except the ominous fear that something is lurking in the closet? What does a child know of death except for the strange thing that you can’t get your head around—when grandpa is no longer here, or anywhere? Easter is understandably trivial to children because these things aren’t real.
But on Easter, we would attend the Easter sunrise service in Portland at the Memorial Coliseum. We would arrive in what seemed like the dead of the night, a wet and chilly pre-sunrise morning in the nascent spring of the Willamette Valley. In that large amphitheater, there would be a program with music and actors and darkness, all of which was forgettable because of the numbing effects of the lack of sleep. But at the conclusion of the service, the combined choirs of high schools from around the city would stand and sing the benediction, a setting of the high-priestly prayer, “The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord lift His countenance upon You and give you peace. The Lord be gracious unto you.” As the song was performed, the blinds would lower in the coliseum. We would go from complete darkness to the light of a miraculous morning spilling into our reality from the outside. That moment demonstrated more than any sermon could explain.
For in that moment, my spirit began to realize something intuitively: there is indeed darkness all around me, but I am contained in a small, confined pocket of life. Outside of this sleepy anesthesia—this spiritual blindness—is the true light of resurrection. There is a spiritual reality that is infinitely more encompassing and profound than the darkness that fills our minds and souls, but it exists behind the curtain. We don’t strike a match to bring light into this dark closet; rather, light surrounds us. Mercy surrounds us. It is the reality that besieges this black and desperate world. A tiny pinhole in the fabric of existence—a sliver of light—is enough to illuminate everything. The resurrection is that glimpse into reality.
If only we could wait with patience, and fight through the numbing effects that this world has upon us, the light of grace would be revealed. We waited for that moment. It beckoned to us. And now in the second half of my life, I understand what it means. That is faith. It means that when the darkness is overwhelming, there is something more real and fundamental—some kind of grace—that exists at this moment beyond the sphere of this life. It exists right now, even though I can’t see it or touch it. It comes by belief—not a pie-in-the-sky denialism, but a confidence in a greater grace and love than I can touch here and now. It comes from an experiential knowledge, a confidence that there is more than my mind can grasp, and at this moment, it is waiting for me just outside the doors of life. The touchstone of that reality is actually not the cross, but the empty tomb.
Easter is a pinhole in the curtain of this world. It is a window into the eternal.
Daniel Radmacher © 2018