CCJC Easter Reflection 2016
The stories that give us the great festival of Easter invariably begin in the resilience of morning … in the great conspiracy of life to emerge through darkness into light … in the re-enactment of earth’s oldest ritual … in the turning of our planet toward its daystar … in the return of light to bring a new day.
One version of this ancient story asks an ageless question: “why are you looking for the living among the dead?” If you have ever walked in old growth forest you know there is no better place to look for the living than among the dead. What better place to find life than in midst of death? This is the long witness of the earth. The things of death are always the conditions for life. Day comes out of night. Spring comes out of winter. Life grows out of the humus of what has gone before. The burial ground of the seed is the birthing ground of the flower. Nothing is wasted in nature. Energy is never lost; it just changes form.
Ironically, it is in those places which are soaked with long and deep memory, that resilience is rooted. Our best hope of finding life after death is in the places alive with memory. In the world of the ancient story, strangers prompted the friends of Jesus to stop looking in the tomb and start searching the place of memory … “Remember what he told you while he was still in Galilee.”
Somehow though their leader had been cut down like a tree, memory became a nurse log that birthed a new and living community. Memory became the humus which seeded a community that would grow into a forest. In looking for a fallen tree, they became a forest. No longer would their dreams for their people and their world reside in an individual but rather in the power of the collective … in each of them and all of them together … and in those of us generations later in whom their seed is planted … in the power of the vision Jesus seeded and they shared.
Resurrection was the name they gave to their experience of that transformation … finding within themselves what they had never lost … finding that they were what they were looking for … knowing the empire had killed their teacher but not his teaching … knowing the empire had buried his body but not their vision for a new earth community. These stories are about the resilience of the human spirit and the capacity of that resilience to seed a new community. Easter is our name for the experiences we have of awakening to the regenerative and restorative nature of life. Easter is every experience we have of finding the living among the dead; of finding hope in the ashes of despair; finding possibility in the places that reek with impossibility; finding the places where endings are just beginnings backward; of finding new capacity in community. And resilience is at the heart of the work of the Church Council on Justice and Corrections. Currently we are piloting a curriculum to nurture empathy among inmates through an examination of victim impact. In cultivating empathy among offenders and victims, there is increased potential for forgiveness, healing and resilience. We at CCJC invite you to participate with us in this great festival of resilience: to be a shining light for restorative approaches to justice and corrections. You can also support our work by sponsoring John deVries in his Marathon for Healing Justice which will take place on April 18th.
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With gratitude for your support and interest in our work, we wish you a most meaningful Easter season.
Nancy Steeves, Past President
The Church Council on Justice and Corrections