After a difficult year, Lucy McGrath, YMCA DownsLink Group’s lead chaplain, reflects on what Easter signifies for her.
“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the Earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
These are words spoken by Jesus which I think have some relevance this Easter, as we tentatively move out of lockdown towards a more hopeful future. We all know from the natural world that there is a cycle of life and death – the new life from the seed can only emerge if the seed falls to the ground and dies. This is the way life renews itself. We also know from our own lives that when parts of our lives ‘die’ new things can emerge – transformation usually involves letting things go. These endings/ “letting go’s” can be painful, scary and involve suffering. Think of ending a relationship or leaving a job? Some endings will be in our control, and some will not.
During the past year we have all had to let things go. Some of these losses will have brought huge suffering, but in some of our ‘losses’ we may have seen the shoots of new life. One of my friends, who in normal times packs her life full of things from morning till night, told me recently that she was determined to have more ‘fallow’ time going forward. The ‘loss’ of back-to-back arrangements has been life-giving for her.
Jesus experienced so many losses in his earthly life, culminating in his death on the cross. He gave up everything, even his own life, and from this came resurrection and new life offered to us all.
This Easter, as we gently move forward to an opening up again of our society, it could be a time to consider both as individuals and as a society if there are things that need to die, things that we need to let go? Things that are contrary to our deepest values and have no place for us anymore? Whenever we let go of the things that hurt our deepest selves, we will find that new life can happen, like the shoots appearing after the seed falls to the ground.
This pandemic has stopped us all in our tracks. Many lives have been forced to take painful, unexpected changes of direction. Perhaps somehow we can use this ‘stopping’ to consider where we want to go as a society and as individuals… What really matters to us? What needs to die in our own lives and in society to bring about ‘wholer’ lives (kinder to ourselves and others) and a fairer, more compassionate world?