Saturday, April 18, 2015

Easter Fool at Folly Beach

Easter Fool at Folly Beach The Rev. Nancy E. Gossling April 18, 2015

I had a different kind of Lent this year. Truth be told, I didn’t do squat, or so it seemed to me. I didn’t give up anything. I didn’t take on anything. I did not give up my self-condemnation, nor guilt, nor doubts. Give up FaceBook? Are you kidding me? That’s community! Give up sweets, or salts, or meat, or spirits? That’s real life to be enjoyed! All I could do was show up at SSJE and Bethany House for prayer; and the cold harsh winter in Boston was enough Lenten discipline for me.
In the recovery world of spirituality, there is an acronym HALT, which means to say that when you are feeling hungry, angry, lonely or tired, it’s time to HALT. It’s time to reconnect with God and/or your Higher Power for help. During this particular Lent, I was hungry; and so Jesus fed me with bread and wine, with chocolate and chips, and with meat and potatoes. I was angry and God acknowledged the injustice and pain, and wiped away my tears. I was lonely, and so my FaceBook friends, SSJE, and Bethany House gave me companionship. Finally, I was tired: tired of too many words and the same old actions or inactions.
My husband Paul suggested we go to the beach in South Carolina for Holy Week and Easter. At first I was horrified by that thought, and yet I agreed to go. What else was I to do? I had an undisciplined and unholy Lent; and now I would miss the footwashing of Maundy Thursday, the crucifixion of Good Friday, and Easter. Game on!
In South Carolina, it all felt odd to me. I felt like a heathen. I washed my feet in the salt waters of the Atlantic; I sacrificed nothing on Good Friday except some time reading Joan Chittister’s “Way of the Cross.” Drinking coffee from a mug that reads “Expect a Miracle”, I gazed down from the window of my hotel room upon an ecumenical Easter morning service on the beach. I wasn’t feeling the joy; and I wasn’t seeing the Resurrection. And then Easter happened.
The Risen Christ was with me in South Carolina. I can’t explain it; I just know it. Christ was risen. As surely as the sun came up over the ocean, as surely as the waters ebbed and flowed with the moon, I knew Christ had risen.
Later in the day, on that Easter morning, Christ was with me at Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston. He was with me in my kayak on Easter Monday. In an estuary in Folly Beach, I witnessed a pod of dolphins unexpectedly breaking the surface of the water. A pod, no less! A holy trinity of three, leaping in a dance of love, witnessing to the joy of recreation! Christ was with me on the beach. Finally, at our last supper in Folly Beach, Christ was with me in the crab cakes, crab legs, and fried green tomatoes!
I have no illusions of castles in the sand, pink clouds in the sky, or feelings of joy that will never disappear. I just know that today, one step at a time, one day at a time, I will never walk alone on the Way to wherever. I know that Grace happens, unexpectedly, wherever you are, and whatever you do. And today, I also feel the joy.