The fifty days following Easter are called Eastertide. During these days Christians celebrate Easter. One of the ways we do that is to keep our spirits connected to the joy of the resurrection. It takes about fifty days to take in the wonder of God’s recreating work through the cross and the empty tomb of Christ. Even though Easter was a little early this year, some of us still have definite glimpses of spring to brighten the season. I was out of town for a couple of days, and it was as if spring fast- forwarded, transforming most of the trees to that brilliant poppy green. Once barren trees first budded with flowers, and now leaves too numerous to count fill all the branches. We are still in transition here in Dallas, but you can’t help but feel joy on a warm sunny spring day.
This same joy fills my heart. It glazes over all the bitter circumstances that coexist with the joy. God fills this world of sorrow with glimpses of joy. It is when we won’t let the joy that exists around us into our souls that we give into the despair. Thomas Aquinas said: Everyone who wants to make progress in the spiritual life needs to have joy (Commentary on the Letter to the Philippians). Paul’s epistle of joy—Philippians—was written from a prison cell in Rome. No doubt our suffering here on earth is harsh and real. Because of God’s love poured out on this sinful earth, souls receive joy that supersedes the harsh reality of the world. The joy is taken in by the soul first, then by the other senses.
Spring is a wonderful season to practice the spiritual discipline of joy. During Eastertide, set apart one hour to sit outside and take in everything that is going on around you. Watch the tiny ants scurrying on their mission. Notice the blades of grass that have turned green and rise up each in their own unique way to reach the sun. Notice how some still dormant blades of grass lag behind yet are still vessels for life to come. Listen for the birds the sound of bees buzzing around your stillness. In the midst of whatever chaos is going on in your life, you can find joy in God and in His creation. Think about how the reality of the resurrection is apparent everywhere you look in spring. Everything that seemed dead, lost and defeated has become new, bursting with life, beauty and glory. Don’t let Easter joy get squelched by the burdens, busyness and indifference of living
For the fifty days of Eastertide, carry with you a song of joy in your heart. When you are met with bad news, consider it joy that you are counted worthy to be tested about whether you can find authentic joy. Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4).
Let Eastertide point your soul toward the joy God hides on your path each day. Pick it up; praise God for it. Take it with you and you will find the spiritual progress Aquinas was speaking of.
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