Each passing day of this quarantine, when my bouts of anxiety peak, I try to get outside. Initially, I move quickly to get distance from my worries. But eventually, my pace slows and unexpected beauties name my emotions. Last week, a few steps from home, I spied shoots of new growth ferns in a neighbor’s yard. I stooped down for a closer look. The tendrils were bright green and tightly rolled in on themselves, a defensive posture against the vagrancies of April. And yet they were slowly uncoiling too, unable to resist their latent potential for reaching up and out.
“Resurrection!” I whispered reverently.
Activist adrienne maree brown helps me experience that connection when she insists that our journeys are not linear but iterative or circular. When we round things, we learn from them. For example, normally at the Easter Vigil, we circle tightly around fire pits, baptismal fonts, and Pascal candles to encounter once again a God who shows us how to uncoil ourselves in the face of our personal fears of death, which are so amplified this Triduum. “Rejoice in the goodness of creation,” we hear, or “come to the water” for rest or to be cleansed. We also encounter stories of God’s repeated saving action in the midst of oppression. When we hear of enslaved peoples being liberated or sinful people being reconciled or all people receiving the guidelines for flourishing, we remember our own latent collective potential to interrupt cycles of oppression, our shared power to reach up and out in order to liberate, reconcile, and flourish.
Like those ferns, may our journey to Galilea—where Mary Magdalene tells us the Resurrected One will meet us—be an iterative one. Uncoil and unfurl. Reach up and out.
- What needs uncoiling or unfurling in you?
- What new things do you encounter in the readings of this Easter Vigil?
Maureen H. O’Connell, Ph.D. is associate professor and chair of religion and theology at La Salle University in Philadelphia.