We walked through the Easter experience apart, but yet together. We are in the pandemic, and everything has changed. We wear masks to go out, we stay at home, but we’ve discovered how to be together, apart. We have church and mingle in our spirits with our church families by zoom or facebook. Everyone was in their homes, sheltering in place, but we felt ‘alive’ with others, because He has risen! There are video calls and skype and regular telephone calls with close family members and friends that are away from us. We are separated, but we are together, in that moment. I long in my heart to be the Mother Hen who brings all of our kids and grandchildren under my wings to keep them safe, then I would feel alive with them.
As I was pondering (I love that word!) the phrase ‘feeling alive’, I began to think the first time I was aware of ‘feeling alive’ and what that meant for me. I was about 7, and we were at Grandpa’s camp, north of Pittsburgh, PA. It was beautiful there…11 acres of woods to explore, wildlife to see, a house for us to stay in. It was modern, with running water, a full kitchen, living room, dining room, and two bedrooms. The property was on the banks of the Allegheny River. My Grandpa owned a boat store and an auto parts store at home, so we had a boat for cruising up and down the river, and a little fishing boat that Grandpa and I would often take out for fishing… I’m not remembering too many fish being caught; but the quiet time, the stillness, the ‘pause’ in the day was wonderful to be with him. In the quietness, with just with us together, I felt alive. He was my ‘person’ at that time, and just being together was enough.
There was one particular day I remember very vividly, my cousins had come for the weekend. Cindy, Bussy, Dicky and I were with Grandpa, looking for our dog, Charlie, who had wandered off in the direction of the boat house, where there was a tool shed attached to it. We were calling his name as Grandpa went inside the boat house, only to find that Charlie was laying there without life in him. He was bitten by a snake. There was lots of crying and disbelief with bewilderment going on right then, confusion, trying to understand what happened to Charlie, and to comprehend in a 7 year old brain what it meant that he was gone. I’m sure it was like the friends of Jesus felt just a couple of days ago. Wait.. What??? I was told that he had gone to Heaven and he was running around with other dogs, happy again, all wagging their tails, feeling alive in a new place. After a while, when everybody else was told about Charlie, I remember that my Dad, Grandpa, Cindy, Bussy, Dicky and I walked to the very back of the 11 acres of woods and Grandpa began to dig a grave right next to a big rock, that we were told was a marker for a grave of an Indian Chief that lived a long, long time ago. I don’t know if that was factual; but I believed it, and was awed at the fact that we were standing on what felt to be a ‘different’ ground almost a Holy Ground. Amidst the digging, Dicky and I wandered off a little and found some arrowheads, which are flat little polished stones, so the story of the Indian Chief must have been true!! As the digging, talking, and rummaging around in the woods was taking place, I had a strong feeling all of a sudden of being ‘alive’. So very much aware of this ‘alive feeling’, I said to my cousin Dicky, ‘can you really believe that you’re alive?’ He looked at me quizzically and said ‘ya, I believe that I’m alive, but I’m not sure if I’m dreaming or not’. Kind of funny, but hmmmm, that’s a lot to ponder, and I’ve thought about that for almost 60 years! What does it mean to feel alive?
Can you imagine what the disciples felt like yesterday, after seeing their friend Jesus, crucified and died on the cross? His lifeless body was placed in the tomb, they saw it happen. After that a large stone was rolled in front of the entrance to the tomb. It seems like there is always a stone by someone dear who has died. But then when they went to the tomb the next day, the stone was rolled away, and the tomb was empty! Jesus then appeared to the women, He was Alive! What?? Since then, Jesus’ love has replaced the sins of all of us. They are forgiven, never more to be thought of, never remembered by God as far as the east is from the west. Because of this dramatic sacrifice of Jesus’ life, we will live eternally. When our bodies no longer have life in them, we continue to live forever. Now, THAT’S feeling Alive!
The continued good news is that we can cast all of our burdens, worries, fears, anxieties upon Him and he will gladly lighten our load so that we don’t have to carry it. That’s feeling Alive and free!
In the midst of this pandemic, we are alone, the world seems like it has stopped all of a sudden. It’s a break from the hectic busyness, the treadmill lifestyle of running around here and there, looking at our phones, not even noticing who is right beside us, not noticing the good in the world, just running from one thing to another. This pause in our world gives us a chance to ‘reset’ our lives and pay attention to only the moment in which we are alive. It gives us a chance to examine who we are, what’s most important to us, what it feels like to be alive and to love. It doesn’t matter what color of skin people have, what socioeconomic class they belong to, what their ‘title’ is at work, how much money they have, it affects us all the same. Stillness, a whole new world… But the busyness of before has fallen away; and if we look deep, we see the goodness happening because of love. We should embrace the ‘not knowing’ of tomorrow, but listen to Mr. Rodgers as he said to ‘look for the helpers’. There are doctors, nurses, first responders, cooks, housekeeping, tending to people who are ill. People are making masks for others, meals are given to healthcare people by restaurants, the music celebrities are giving free online concerts, we see words of encouragement from our friends and family on facebook. There are more personal conversations happening, more contacts with our families to check in, more acts of kindness to strangers, more thanksgiving, more awareness of God’s goodness being lived out in those who are rising up to help others. That’s what Alive feels like!
When was a time that you paused and felt Alive? What continues to make you feel Alive today?