April 12, 2020 Easter Sunday
Right now it is a Joyous Easter Morn! Halleluiah Christ is Risen!
On Good Friday I was cleaning up the final grapevine clippings that Emily and I had thinned out the day before. Pushing one overloaded wheelbarrow of long unwieldy vines after another, I trudged back and forth from our grape trellises to the dump-pile of yard refuse. During these walks of trying to keep the wheelbarrow steady from tipping over, and avoiding doggy doo-doo which had already gotten my right shoe once – yes gross – the mess of vines brought to mind the crown of thorns that had been roughly pushed onto the head of the already flogged and beaten Christ almost 2000 years ago.
As I thought, in my own minuscule experience, of how painful and humiliating that could have been for him, my mind went to the mockers as they had crowned him King of the Jews and laughed. I thought of sneers and rude comments that may have been made as this already scarred and bleeding innocent man carried a huge and heavy cross up Calvary Hill. Even while hanging bleeding on the cross, the mockers continued, offering him vinegar for relief, and casting lots for his clothes as family and friends grieved. The mockery continued with a call from persecutors to save himself if he was really King of the Jews. In his last words, his concern was for them, as he forgave them for they knew not what they did, and he told a thief being crucified that he would be with him in paradise. I also have always been touched that Christ also left the care of his dear mother in the hands of his friend.
Walking under an apple tree with my pile of tangled vines, I felt anger towards people who would act so disrespectful to the very man who was born into this world for the purpose of bringing love and peace. I felt indignant that the Savior’s physical trials, after his atoning sacrifice in the Garden of Gethsemane had already caused him great pain, would have such ill-intended mockery heaped on.
Then I suddenly became aware of my own failings and unkind tendencies. I quickly was taken back in my life to times I had teased a sibling unkindly and laughed about it. A tumble of memories crashed in on me as I thought of times my own unkind words or actions have hurt someone else. Maybe many times when I didn’t even care or notice or even know I should have apologized.
I thought of a teacher who was treated so disrespectfully by a snotty troop of maligned eighth-graders who all joined in mob mentality (me included) every day against that poor man. I thought of times I mouthed off when I was easily offended or thought I was right. I thought of times I’ve complained against someone rather than going to them and asking to understand them better.
Last night, we watched the movie Wonder about a boy with a disfigured face who experienced ridicule and friendlessness, which brought a whole new bunch of regrets. I thought of a girl in our school who wore extremely modest clothes due to her religion and how people would make fun of her even though she deserved friends. I don’t remember being unkind to her as her locker was near mine, but I also know I probably didn’t purposely sit by her at lunch or go out of my way to be a true friend. I actually admired her in PE as she was quite a little athlete, but I never thought to compliment her when she did so well. There were others, who I rarely paid attention to, or did so out of obligation, not heartfelt desire. My “social distancing” could have been even more hurtful than unkind words. I was too busy being a social butterfly with my own doubts about myself.
I remember a devout dental patient of mine, Ione, who many years ago, spoke about all the scriptures we have which tell of how our tongues can build-up others or destroy them. She was so tender and well versed in that topic but I don’t believe I really took intentional advantage of her sweet lesson much at the time though I knew I should have. I can’t count how many articles and inspiring talks I’ve listened to, that have encouraged me to “consider my ways” and yet I’ve lacked somewhat of self-discipline to truly become as Christlike of a person as I could become. Yes, I’ve had spurts of trying, and failings, and hope that I am higher on the ladder of being a truly kind person than I once was, but I still have room to grow.
In my life as a wife, mother, sister, daughter, granddaughter, employee, coworker, neighbor, club and board member, musician, and friend, I know I’ve fallen short in so many ways. That is the very reason I celebrate Christmas and Easter and all the days in between.
The birth of Jesus Christ gives us hope, not only for eternal life but for the remission of our sins. Even the best of people have them. The atonement of Jesus Christ allows us to leave our fallen ways behind and become clean through His great mercy. Every Sunday while partaking of the sacrament (or communion as many call it) I am reminded of the opportunity to always remember the Savior and know of His great love for me and his power to help and comfort in any way I need. On Easter, we have the amazing added gift of knowing that when He rose from the tomb, Jesus gave us the promise that we will all rise again, and I believe that Eternal life will include our families and friends that we came to know during mortality.
I am so thankful that my journey of learning and growing doesn’t need to go by with day to day guilt and regret. I can repent and grow daily as I fine-tune my life to be more in harmony with the example of the Savior of mankind. I wake up each day knowing it is new and clean and that love and hope and peace are real and available to all who seek it. Happy Easter!
Matthew 25:40 Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.