I did not earn or deserve this life.
I stand before the sea, awed
a speck of dust in the wind.
My ankles crave the naked sea calling
me to dive in, shock waives waiting to be
released, scream wind crash YES
to the full moon, water, fire, wind, sky.
Light rippling, the language of the heart.
Oceanic awareness speaks:
God’s power lies infinite, beyond the deep
where Christ’s love redeems
all waves, always
in this selfless sea.
Forget not that you belong to me, the One
who spoke you
I stand on shore, yearning for answers.
How may I dive in,
give myself, rise away
Like a map of my soul I watch the mystery
of waves unfolding
life around and within me.
I am left with the silence
the boundless grace that redeems.
I never expected to be celebrating Easter by the ocean in Key West, Florida, but here I am! I am visiting with my mother’s family on the southernmost island of the United States, just having returned from a sunset festival by the shore. This time with family has prompted me to ask deeper questions about who I am and where I come from, but most importantly, who God is on this day of Easter. The story of Christ’s death and resurrection, confirmed by the wisdom of the ocean, has provided answers beyond my understanding.
Sitting in silence beside the ocean waters while reading The Violence of Love by Oscar Romero, I have realized that Easter is a special time to mark the coming of a new season. I am reminded of Easter last year, when I celebrated the Lord’s resurrection with my host family in Victoria after visiting Davidson for the first time. Last year felt like the first time that I glimpsed the true goodness contained in Easter morning; I felt a creative energy stirring within me as I studied scripture for the first time. The message of Easter for me was, and remains, very simple: God’s Love is the ultimate Reality.
I used to think that the cross was simply a test that separated those who say “I believe in Jesus” and those who do not. I was told at a young age that I would be “saved,” all my troubles would be taken away, if I confessed Christ as the savior, if I found the right Easter egg. This consumerist form of religion painted Easter as a buy-one-belief-get-heaven-free that inevitably corrupted my understanding.
Now, as I reflect on this Easter evening, I realize the cross represents something cosmic: God’s equalizing, undying love at the center of all life. On the cross, God exposes the world’s injustice, accompanies all who suffer, and make selfless love visible through Christ Jesus’ vulnerability. Through his suffering and unbridled compassion, God redeems all Creation.
Two thousand years after Christ’s resurrection, our world, tortured by violence and environmental destruction, is in desperate need of reconciliation. The cross represents our pure hope for a new community as Christ unites heaven and earth, proclaiming all forgiven and loved. This is the great Mystery and hope we enter into on Easter morning.
What does this profound Mystery mean for those who profess Christ as savior? To follow Christ, we too must take up our crosses. The Salvadoran people showed me that the cross invites us to freedom as God’s love compels us to sacrifice our lives for the community. I believe that Easter reveals our purpose of this lifetime: to discover our individual gifts so that we may lives out of our deepest compassion and passion to serve others.
As Paul writes to the Philippians in the famous Christ Hymn, we are called to obedient service.
“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.
Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name.” (Philippians 2:5-10)
Along with scripture, I have been reading the Dalai Lama’s book For The Benefit of All Beings this Easter weekend. While I take great encouragement from the Dalai Lama’s teachings on universal compassion, I am troubled by the command, “Be the master of yourselves.” In our individualistic, narcissistic culture, I cannot make myself the master while also serving others. Particularly from a Western perspective, our cultural obsessions with technology, resumes, exercise, consumerism, cleanliness already tempt me into self-righteous control. Thus I need a language of the Sacred that professes God’s love, not my own will, as the Source of liberation.
This weekend, as I dove within the ocean, I felt liberated from the powers that tempt me during daily life. I did not fear the past or the future or what others thought of me when I ran into the sea alone, splashing and rejoicing in its pure waters. It was a moment of pure awareness of life’s fullness, of God’s limitless grace. On Easter morning, Christ invites us to renounce our fears and enter into the boundless sea of Love as our genuine selves.
May we take steps into this sea each day, guided by the language of our hearts: the Light of the risen Lord. Amen.