Easter Thoughts – “Alleluia, amen.”

Seeing post after post on personal blogs and Facebook has made me want to write something… something to try to communicate what Easter is to me. But as I’ve thought of what to write, the task seems impossible. How can I fully communicate to someone else, some who hasn’t lived through the experiences that taught me what I believe about God, the majesty and wonder and awe that I feel on the day that commemorates Christ rising from the dead?

There are too many personal experiences, too many verses of scripture, too many pieces of art, and too many feelings for these pixels to capture. In spite of that inadequacy, I do want to communicate in part what can’t be said in whole.

Eric Whitacre’s “Alleluia” captures some of the gratitude and humility I’m experiencing today. Gratitude for a God who “so loved” the world that he sent is son, and from personally feeling that love. Gratitude for parents and a religious tradition that have both lead me to seek beauty and truth from the world around me. And humility from seeing that I have been given so much, and from knowing that I need to give more.

A large part of of why I’ve chosen this song is that Eric Whitacre describes himself as a spiritual person and an agnostic. I love that the experiences he had with Christianity at King’s College led him to write what he did. That, to me, makes the praise more valuable, in a sense, because even someone who’s not sure they believe can be moved by the love of a Heavenly Father.

On this Easter Sunday, I say “Alleluia, amen.”

Don’t skip this three-minute explanation.
Ten minutes, but worth every second.

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace”

This Sunday, someone will be at church and feel like they don’t belong.

Maybe they don’t have as much money everyone else, or maybe they have more money than everyone else.

Maybe they’ve struggled for years with infertility, and their prayers seem to fall on unlistening ears.

Maybe they don’t feel like God could love with them, not with the things they’ve done.

Maybe they’re exhausted from being in leadership callings for years.

Maybe they’ve just found out something new and troubling about the church, and it’s affecting them more than they expected.

Maybe they’re afraid the other guys in priests quorum will find out that they’re attracted to other boys. Maybe they’re terrified that they won’t make it to their 25th birthday.

Maybe they’ve just been fired from a job and feel like failures who can’t provide for their families.

Maybe they’re not able to go back to how they used to believe in the church, and they don’t want anyone to know about their doubts.

Maybe they feel like failed parents because a child has left the church.

Maybe they’re not sure how to tell parents, friends, and leaders they don’t think they should go on a mission.

Maybe they won’t be at church because it’s just too hard.

Sometimes, there seems to be so much pain in the world. It can be easy to feel helpless.

On the other hand, maybe you and I, even while carrying our own burdens, could ease those of someone else. Maybe we could reach out to someone and say hi and smile. Maybe we can make a new friend. Maybe we can listen to another and love without judgment. Maybe we can echo, to some extent, the love that God has for his imperfect, struggling children and help make their burdens lighter.

Locus Iste and Sacred Spaces

During high school, I developed a deep appreciation of choral music. Part of it was that I felt it connected me to divinity, to those around me, and to the past. Singing the same songs in the same places hundreds of years later seemed to create a bridge through time, connecting my experience with holiness and theirs.

One of my favorite pieces to sing was Locus Iste, a text based on Moses’ experience where he is asked to remove his shoes because of the location’s holiness. The text, originally in Latin, reads:

Locus iste a Deo factus est,
inaestimabile sacramentum,
irreprehensibilis est.

This place was made by God,
a priceless sacrament;
it is without reproach.

A favorite verse of scripture echoes the same feeling. Speaking of a sacred spaces, it says:

How beautiful are [they] to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer; yea, and how blessed are they, for they shall sing to his praise forever.

Locus Iste reminds of reminds of places where I’ve experienced sacredness and holiness, from churches and cathedrals, to mountaintops and rooftops, to a desk where I used to study scripture as a teenager. My favorite version of the song is by Paul Mealor. When you listen to it (only six minutes), what sacred spaces does it remind you of?

Find the song on Apple Music or Spotify, or go for the entire album at these links if you want more Mealor (and it’s good stuff):