Parish Link - April 2024

Happy Easter

Happy Easter

Dear Friends,

Two years ago, my favourite aunt died. Two months ago, I saw her in the supermarket. She stood in the fruit aisle and reached out to pick some apples. For a moment, time stood completely still, and I felt nailed to the ground. I stared at a woman who my brain told me was my aunt, but could not possibly be my aunt! For a fraction of a second, my retina registered the same hairstyle, the same posture, the same kind of coat, the same facial features: my aunt. Brain freeze.

Was I dreaming? Or did my aunt live? Had her funeral been some practical joke – the cruellest betrayal of trust? Was anything real in this world, or was nothing as it seemed?

I don’t know how long this moment of complete disorientation lasted. Probably only half a second. As the woman straightened up, I realised it was someone else – not my aunt. But I had to take a few moments to recover. I felt an intense wave of raw grief. I walked down the aisles, unable to remember what to buy.

Of course, in my training I had learned that these things happen. It’s all part of the experience of trauma. People who are bereaved regularly describe seeing visions or hearing voices. It’s quite natural. The brain slowly adjusts to a new reality.

Obviously, these moments of disorientation never last for more than a split second. People who grieve aren’t delusional. The brain doesn’t spin new life from false hope or fantasy. Dead is dead. A funeral is a funeral. Our loved ones don’t come back.

Except for that one time. The split second of recognition in Mary’s brain didn’t give way to a wave of grief. The eyes of the disciples didn’t fool them. The pair at Emmaus didn’t dream. Nor was there some elaborate cover story to try and hide the embarrassment of putting all one’s faith in a messiah who ends up dead on a cross. No, the only embarrassment was the embarrassment of St Thomas, who was slow to believe that Jesus was alive. There really is only one reasonable explanation for the existence of Christianity: "Jesus Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluiah."

Happy Easter!

Love and prayers

Revd Johannes Nobel