Rev. Aleese Kenitzer
Rev. Aleese Kenitzer
Aleese Kenitzer serves as the pastor of Shepherd of the Cross Church in Muscatine.

Muscatine Living

A few days ago, my alarm woke me up while it was still pitch black. There was not even a hint of light slipping through the darkness of night. Rousing myself, eventually I stirred. Knowing my bedroom well enough by touch, I could make my way around without turning on a light, but once I got to the bathroom, my hand reached for the light switch. You all know the feeling. You brace yourself for it, preemptively squinting your eyes, but no matter how careful you are, it’s still harsh. To go from complete darkness to bright light was assaulting to my eyes.

For many Christians, the past 40 days has been spent in a season of darkness. Lent – a season of self-examination, discipline, and repentance – reveals the darkness of our human condition and the darkness of our broken lives and relationships. More and more, we become aware of our need to be made whole by something outside of ourselves. Plunging into the depth of human suffering and death as Jesus is crucified upon a cross, it seems as though we couldn’t get any darker.

Then, it’s as if the lights are turned on. On that first Easter day, as the women came to the tomb, they didn’t expect to see even a sliver of light, but suddenly two men dressed in white stood before them, telling them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has been risen.” Similar to turning on a light after being in the dark for so long, it took a moment for the women to catch their footing, but once their eyes – and their souls – adjusted to the light that had been spoken to them, that light began to penetrate them, sending them forth to live in that light.

Like the women who went to the tomb in darkness, it’s clear that there is darkness within us and around us. Continuing to hear of destruction in Ukraine, it may seem difficult to believe that light could be found in such a place. Closer to home, it may seem difficult to believe that light could possibly penetrate the throes of grief, suffering, or despair. Yet, the light does come.

Whenever that light comes, it might take us a while to adjust. Having grown used to the shadows, any semblance of light might make us squint in protest, but like the women at the tomb, we don’t need to take in every ounce of light the moment it appears. In the church, we have an entire season of Easter – 50 days – to let this light seep into ourselves, and we have 50 days to practice seeing ourselves, others, and the world around us through a lens of brightness.

So whether or not you celebrate Easter, count out 50 days from now. Mark your calendar. In that time, give yourself the grace to allow the promise of light and joy to sink in. Not at a pace that is assaultive, but is steadily life-giving. At first, signs of light may be a bit of a shock, but that light will lead us to life.

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