And so our Holy Land visit draws to a close and we have only one day left on our Partridge Family pilgrimage bus (Google the reference, Millennials). We have spent the morning figuring out what to pack and what to leave. We have sorted through the gifts we are bringing home and making last decisions about what we really don’t need. That goes for our personal baggage, too. I think we would both agree that this trip has been a game-changer, and not necessarily in the ways we expected.
“Blessed are they who have not seen me and yet still believe.” Sure, we’ve always appreciated the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. On this trip, I have felt the real presence of Christ, the person. I really feel like I have seen Jesus. We have walked where He walked, sat where He sat and heard the word where He preached (Thanks, Fr, Darryl!). Like the apostles, I feel compelled to go out and share the message with those who were not here, have not seen. And just what is that message, exactly? I’m glad you asked.
In a word: Joy.
After another emotionally draining day of Mass at Jesus’s tomb, seeing where He died and walking the Via Dolorosa, I was struggling. I have always gotten the Passion of Christ but I have trouble feeling the whole Joy thing on Easter, to be honest. Christmas is easier to get. We get babies being born but it’s pretty hard to comprehend the promise of a future in a paradise that is beyond our imagining. Yay.
After all the sadness, though, we ended up full circle renewing our baptismal vows at the River Jordan, surrounded by adorable babies, happy families and joy. (BTW, quick side note: any irony that the whole river area is surrounded by landmines? Satan, anyone?) No offense to my Godparents but it was nice to answer those baptismal questions myself this time, really believing them. And the kids we saw? Priceless. The only thing that could have made the scene more joyful would have been puppies and baby bunnies. And, afterwards, watching you float in the Dead Sea in a Lilly Pultizer bathing suit.
Is it weird to be starting the Lenten season already holding a feeling of Easter joy? Because I believe that is the main gift we are bringing back home. You asked how will we keep this feeling. I give you the words of Keith Partridge:
Hello world, here’s a song that we’re singing
Come on, get happy
A whole lot of lovin’ is what we’ll be bringin’
We’ll make you happy
Let’s share the joy.