Henri Nouwen tells the story of a rabbi who asked his students how they could tell when the dawn had come. One student responded by saying, “When you can see the sheep on the hill.” Another suggested that one can tell that the dawn has come when a person is able to distinguish between a fig tree and a grapevine. “No,” said the wise one. “It is dawn when you can look into the face of human beings and you have enough light within you to recognize them as your sisters and brothers.”
Recasting the story to fit the season, one could ask the question: “When can you tell that Easter is happening inside of you?” While there are probably many answers, one possible answer could be: “We can tell that Easter has happened inside of us when we begin to see life differently.”
Some years ago, a friend had just returned from a thirty-day retreat given in Canada. People said to him: “So you were on a thirty-day retreat. You don’t look any different to me.” To this my friend responded, “ But YOU look different to me.”
There is another question:” Where does the light within come from, and how can we help it come to be?”
Early on, I learned that each new liturgical feast is not just a commemoration from the past. Something new and different actually happens. Thus, we can ask ourselves: “What will it be this year?”
Maybe, with Mary and the other women, and later with Peter and John, we should hurry off to the garden in search of the Risen Lord. And, if an angel tells us that the Risen One has gone on to Galilee, we are to go there, too. It is the expectant heart that invites the light.
*Henri Nouwen, Seeds of Hope , (New York: Bantam Books, 1989), p.204.
Sister Mary Jo Loebig, O.C.D.