Resurrection Joy

Darkness and Dawn    

I love Easter Sunday, especially the early morning hours. Every year I get up while it’s still dark and spend some time imagining what that first Easter Sunday must have been like, starting with deep grief and fear, then moving to confusion, then astonishment and, finally, joy. I try to put myself in the women’s place, as they walk through the dim light of early dawn, carrying spices, planning to go to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body for a proper burial. All their hopes had been dashed, and their friend, their teacher, the one in whom they had wholeheartedly trusted, was dead.

They get to the cemetery and find that his grave has been violated, opened; his body is not there! And then an angel appears (!) and tells them that Jesus isn’t there, that he has risen? What could that mean, risen? Jesus is dead; he died a horrible death, beaten and mutilated, and killed. They saw it happen and saw his dead body.

And then the angel tells them to go tell the disciples that Jesus has risen. Like the disciples are really going believe that! Men wouldn’t take a woman’s word for anything in that time and place in history. Women weren’t considered reliable witnesses and their words weren’t admissible as testimony in court. And yet, these women are the first ones to receive the announcement that Jesus has risen. And then they are the first ones to whom the risen Jesus appeared! I think often about what that says to our world about how Jesus esteems women…

And now these women, afraid and yet filled with joy, have a message to carry to the disciples, a message that resonates through centuries and cultures, a message I meditated on this morning as birds sang their joy in the new day and that I will continue to ponder for many mornings when I rise early and look out at the new light of dawn breaking in and dispersing the dark of night.

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”    Matthew 28:1-10 NIV

Resurrection Joy


Storm at Schoodic

Storm 2
Schoodic Storm II Painted from my car

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap… I snuggle under my covers in the chilly room, lulled by the steady tapping of rain against the high windows. Suddenly the tapping becomes a loud drumming, accompanied by a sudden roar of wind, and I awaken fully, remembering that a huge storm has been predicted for today. I burrow my face into the enticing warmth of my pillow for another minute as I savor the sounds of the storm, then I leap from bed, and quickly pull on woolen long johns, jeans, turtleneck, two wool sweaters, a fleece vest, and, finally, my winter jacket, scarf, and hat. Grabbing keys and art supplies, I dash through pelting rain to my car, then head towards Schoodic Point.

Between the lingering dark of night, the heavy dark of storm, and the downpour of rain, I can barely see through my windshield. I don’t get far before I stop to stare in wonder at moving mountains of white standing out against the darkness, advancing across Arey Cove—white-capped crests rolling steadily toward shore, then crashing in mighty explosions of foam along what I know is a cobble beach, now buried beneath wildly churning water. Barely visible on the far side of the cove, giant liquid fingers reach up again and again to the heights of the granite cliffs of Little Moose Island.

I turn back to the road and drive carefully up to the point, round the curve into the parking lot, and stop. Mountains of salt water, more immense by far than the waves in the cove below, catapult themselves toward land, hurling raging waters against the pink granite that twelve hours earlier had been so serenely clothed in the soft glow of evening light. As each wave crashes with thunderous roar, burying the rocky point beneath roiling foam and swirling waters, spray leaps skyward, though no sky can be seen through the rain—waters from below leaping to meet waters from above.

I watch from way above the level of the water, way back from its edge, yet look up to see clouds of spray, blown high and wide by wind, so that my lips taste the sea, as I stand in silence before its awesome power.

Schoodic Storm (Painted from my car)

River Otter

River Otter—Lontra canadensis

River Otter Family at Schoodic Peninsula

When I was at the Schoodic Peninsula at Acadia National Park last fall, I especially enjoyed watching for otters. Here is what I wrote in my journal the first morning I saw them, after several days of looking for them each morning, hoping to catch a glimpse of them:

As we passed the pond where I’ve seen otter tracks crossing the road every morning, we heard some quiet splashing and spotted four little heads, each with its own wake, coming diagonally across the pond toward us. Otters! As they arrived at the edge of the pond, they saw us and submerged briefly. Then a head popped up, clearly looking at us and looking as though the otter was treading water to stay upright. Up and under a few times, whiskers dripping as the otter checked us out, clearly wary.

Otters in meander book
Otter field sketches

We backed out of sight and waited. And waited some more (and got colder and colder). After what seemed like a long time, but was probably no more than five minutes, an otter appeared on the roadside. She (or he) looked around, then ducked back out of sight, just as a second otter appeared. That one looked around a bit less warily, then loped across the road. As he reached the far side of the road he lay down briefly—which explains the larger wet marks I had been wondering about at one end of the tracks crossing the road each morning. The other three otters now appeared and loped across the road with their inimitable, curvy movement. Was the lead otter’s lying down a signal that all was safe?

Me sketching otter tracks

Another morning I was looking out at the cove at some ducks and grebes, when something else caught my eye, something that looked a bit different than anything I had seen out in the water. I lifted my binoculars for a closer look—an otter swimming through the cove! Soon it was joined by three more, and I watched as they undulated up and down, sometimes diving, sometimes seeming to just enjoy up and down motion, as they curved in and out of the surface of the water without going deeper.

Otter Field Sketches- scent marking
Otter Field Sketches

I watched as they climbed out on a rock and one leaned back, as though in a seaweed-covered recliner. At one point they all swam to a different rock and I watched as first one, then a second did what appeared to be scent-marking (sketch and description in my field sketches). Soon after, they all swam off, and I didn’t see them again until the next day, when they were out at Schoodic Point, swimming and then climbing on the rocks to eat, with one otter, who was separated from the other, whistling with what sounded like a distress call.

Otter Field Sketches– crossing the road, swimming


Moonlight Bright…

I opened my eyes to see moonlight splashed bright across my warm comforter, then turned to see the clock – 3:00AM . I snuggled into my pillow, pulled up the comforter crisscrossed by clear lines of light and shadow from windowpanes and mullions, and closed my eyes, but it was no use. The brightness of the moon had danced into my mind and now called to me, insisting I join her.

I slipped quietly from bed, slid into muck shoes and a fleece, and, taking Petra with me, stepped silently out into the light of night. Frosty grass sparkled, bright beside deep shadows of trees crossing the yard. The moon, full round and white, hung in the southern sky, obscuring nearly all stars around her. To the north I could make out the Big Dipper and Cassiopeia, but most stars had yielded to the brilliance of the moon.

All was still. Not a sound, not a breath of wind. Just the world in black and white and shades of gray, with the fresh tang of frost fully awakening my spirit. Alert, I thought to walk, but I sensed that, like all nature around, I had to be still. And so I stood, Petra silent beside me, moonlight falling bright on us, shadows long behind us, filling my soul, calming my being.

Full Moon Over Pond

This painting, “Full Moon,” is currently featured in my Etsy shop.