Easter: Time to pay it forward

Published 7:50 am Thursday, April 18, 2019

By Marvin Repinski

United Methodist Pastor (retired)

Of course there is loss, tragic loss.  I’m writing about the experience of the early Christians and about, it seems, the whole world in its knowledge of the fire that nearly destroyed the Notre Dame Cathedral.  Not only does Paris weep, but millions of persons continue to dry their tears.  Two events in this Holy Week bring me to a response.

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What is our loss?

The book of Job (17:1), from another time in history, wrote:  “My spirit is broken; my days are extinct; the graveyard is ready for me.”  Jesus on the cross of his death, is reported to say (John 19:28), “I thirst.”  Pictures of loss, experience of hurt, pain, and disappointment are common to the human family.

The loss in the flames of destruction of one of the world’s greatest wonders, is brought home by a reading I just accidentally came upon.  Jane Goodall is a person associated with Tanzania, where she studied the behavior of chimpanzees.  That’s only part of the story.  She has said:  “Some years ago I visited Notre-Dame.  By good fortune there were very few people about, and it was still and quiet inside.  Just as I was gazing up where the sun made the great rose window glow, the whole cathedral, without warning, was filled with a huge volume of sound.  As the organ thundered out Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D. Minor,” the music was alive.  The moment, a suddenly captured moment of eternity, was perhaps the closest I have ever come to experiencing ecstasy, in the sense of the mystic.

How could I believe that it was the chance gyrations of bits of primeval dust that had led up to that moment in time — the cathedral soaring to the sky, the collective inspiration and faith of those who caused it to be built, the advent of Bach himself, his brain that had translated truth into music, the mind that could, as mine did then, comprehend the whole inexorable progression of evolution in a split second?  Since I could not, and cannot, believe that this was the result of chance, I have to admit anti-chance.  And so I believe in a guiding power in the universe — in other words, I believe in God.”

What gives desire

for a new future?

The observations and study of other persons may motivate us to beautiful goals and accomplishments.  An example is the life of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.

She spoke of her teenage years.  At the end of World War II, she traveled through Europe helping the ravaged refugees.  She has written, “it was there in the midst of suffering that I found my goal.”  Eventually she studied to become a medical doctor.

The experience of the disciples of Jesus, mostly a rag-tag group, sensed something so profound that it went deep into their hearts.

Kubler-Ross, as a doctor of thousands, and the author of a number of books (please read something she has written!), has stated, “the ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is UNCONDITIONAL LOVE, which includes not only others but ourselves as well.”

Ourselves as well

To despise one’s family, to only bad-mouth our community, to do violence to the environment, to neglect the wounded, is to do the opposite of my theme.  We PAY IT FORWARD by developing our native abilities, our learned skills, our spiritual sensitivities, and note the new roads beyond Easter Sunday.  Now is the time to listen to grandma:  “You are PROMISE!”

To belittle ourselves is to deceive ourselves; to only look at our shortcomings to create bleak ghosts.  We may be part of the eyes that look beyond broken cathedrals and broken bodies.  There is promise ahead of the questing soul!

Odd sayings that

create the future

There are, in many of the writings of the world religions, statements that may be difficult, fuzzy, metaphorical, poetic, puzzling, and challenging.  The Christian Scriptures are replete with some statements that are, seemingly, not for all readers.  There is a very plain statement, attributed to Jesus:  “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  (John 8:12).  St. Paul in Philippians 3:12, speaks of his pressing on.

How some persons

pay it forward

Every person, I believe, must find a place, a sanctuary of hope; a person needs something upon which his or her heart can focus itself.  Optimism?  Yes and no.  Foundations must be created.  Other persons may enable us to find the bricks and mortar to build that foundation.  Together it is done!

I read that Socrates never left Athens, but he has encompassed the centuries.  And someone may think, “What about me?  You know, I’ve never left Austin!”

Now and then I read something written by William Shakespeare.  This has long stayed with me from the play “As You Like It.”

“Sweet are the uses of adversity, which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his head.”

Today Easter and Paris say to us:  “Use what is attainable.  Use what can be rebuilt.  Use what is ahead.  Shape the future.  Don’t leave Jesus out of it!”  Children may sing:  “Hide it under a bushel.  No!”