In the morning, after I got out of Mass (it was Palm Sunday last year on April 9), I noticed six missed calls from my brother on my cell phone and my heart sank. I remember walking across campus for lunch, not being able to dial his number back. And just sitting in the office and crying and crying, after my fingers finally cooperated, and I had heard the news.
What a strange creature grief is. It comes out of nowhere, like a beast of prey, attacking swiftfly, going for the jugular, leaving one helpless and gasping, with a knife twisting in the stomach, a lump in the throat, and a heart made of lead.
I know it's Easter. "Christ has conquered, glory fills you, darkness vanishes forever," the Exsultet proclaims in amazement. I read the Holy Father's words below with joy, and draw strength from them, from so many other sources. Yet it is so obvious how imperfect a world we live in, and how much we don't want to belong to Christ, but just to ourselves and our hapless wills and divided hearts.
Ah, love, let us be trueApril 9 is also Papa's birthday. He would have been 77. Last May, sitting in the oncologist's office, he told my mother and brother that he had celebrated his last birthday.
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
(From Matthew Arnold's "Dover Beach.")
He was right.