The Call to Joy

by Katie Rich

 

They say that April showers bring May flowers. But when April blizzards bring an unending 40 degree drizzle, it’s hard to stay optimistic. The end of the school year should be a time teeming with joy and happiness, no? By this time, Boston has usually shed its snaky winter skin and slithered into a beautiful spring. Salmon shorts and sundress-clad students should be gracing the lawns around campus, making everything feel lighter and that much more collegiate. Finals seem less daunting, graduation more bitter-sweet than just plain bitter, and that mountainous accumulation of reading you’ve been stock-piling since January doesn’t seem as formidable when you can tackle it while drinking iced coffee and soaking up some Vitamin D.

When the sun sinks behind the giant gray clouds, however, so do our good spirits. Our thoughts are consumed with the amount of work we have, and the dismally miniscule amount of time we have to complete it in. Do I really still have over 200 pages to read for that class? If I add up all the pages of papers I have to write, is it really that many? And wait, that final is cumulative?! Once we start, it’s easy to spiral. Saying goodbye to friends will be unavoidable with graduation looming all-too-closely on the horizon, no matter what year you are. Plus, there’s the laundry you haven’t done, the friend you’ve been meaning to have coffee with before you never see them again, the broken pipe under your kitchen sink, you’ve been sniffling for weeks, and you can’t remember the last time you woke up feeling rested.

 

Take a deep breath and imagine, for a minute, that it’s 2000 years ago. It’s a hot and dusty Sunday morning, and you and your buddy Cleopas have started walking to the next town over, roughly seven miles away. Don’t think you’ve escaped your stress, though. You have rocks in your sandals, and your feet are already filthy even though you have a lot of walking ahead of you. You’re pretty tired, haven’t had your coffee (poor first-century Palestine), but these things seem more than trivial when you think of what’s taken place the last few days. The carpenter from Nazareth had convinced you that he really might be the One you’d been waiting for all these years. You thought that he might deliver your people from the hands of the Romans, and Israel would be lifted up to glory again like it had been under David. Everything had been looking up. But on Friday, he’d been killed, suffering a grueling death that no true king would ever have endured. As one of his followers, even though you weren’t really close to him, you’re afraid for your life, so you and Cleopas decided to leave Jerusalem for a while. On top of all this, some nitwit decided that he’s going to tag along with you. The guy’s a joke, too – he has no clue about what’s been happening the past few days. And then, once you’ve explained everything to him, he decides he does know something, and proceeds to lecture you about the scriptures that you understand very well yourself, thank you very much. And he called you foolish? Who does this guy think he his? Doesn’t he know you have enough to deal with without his pestering?

 

The disciples on the road to Emmaus were quite literally walking with Christ, and they nearly missed him. They were too caught up dwelling in their own misery to witness something exquisitely beautiful that was beside them all along.

 

Easter isn’t just a day, but a season. Christians are called to celebrate the living God for 50 days after Easter Sunday. For some perspective, that’s 10 days longer than Lent. With the advent of Ash Wednesday, we jump willingly into those 40 days of fasting and prayer. We don’t seem to have a big problem reminding ourselves to be repentant. But when we are told that we should be joyful for the entire 50 days of Easter, keeping the Resurrection close to our hearts, we shrink away from the seemingly insurmountable task. As Christians, we are called to be joyful. This doesn’t mean happy-go-lucky, or blissfully unaware of the problems of the world around us. But it is important, especially in this Easter season, to keep the joy of Christ alive in our hearts, no matter how dismal our day-to-day dealings may seem.

 

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