From Darkness…Hope

Sun pours in through the window of the Holy Family School Learning Commons. On the pavement below, melting snow washes away the grime of winter. On the edges of the puddles it forms, green grass emerges.


After spending too many gray, winter days indoors, this Spring day, with its promise of new life and new beginnings, lifts our spirits. Reminding us that, “to everything, there is a season and a purpose under heaven”. And how, in the ever-revolving cycle of life, the hope of brighter days ahead keeps us going during the darkest days of winter. Fueling our faith that out of darkness, the light will emerge.

The sun pouring through the window shines brightly on the four members of the Holy Cross Parish Knights of Columbus sitting in the front row of the commons. Each is a regular fixture at the school. Today, as part of the Lenten season, they are leading Grade 5 and 6 students in praying the rosary. My heart is warmed by the sense of peace, quiet and calm that replace the usual busy pace in the junior division. All students and staff are engaged. All meditate on the words, prayers and key messages of the season.

IMG_9239Today’s lesson is on the suffering of Jesus. In it, Brother Bob asks, “If there is a good and just God, why is there suffering in the world?” His response, “there is no clear answer”. God did send His one and only Son to suffer alongside us. To accept the burdens of life. Find strength in the higher purpose of God’s calling. Jesus accepted his calling with the utter despair and trepidation of a mortal man. He agonized, pleaded, and bargained. Yet, in the end, he bore his Cross. With a strength and dignity reflective of his faith in God his Father.

For Jesus, acceptance meant stepping forward despite knowing what was coming. Trusting God’s will while being scourged, mocked and humiliated. Enduring unfathomable agony on the Cross. Dying a tortured death, in order for our sins to be forgiven. Amidst raging storms, Jesus revealed the ultimate magnitude and power of God.

photo-1521106581851-da5b6457f674Subsequently, at the tomb, when the stone was pushed away, the shrouds remained but Jesus’ earthly body was gone. Then, when Jesus appeared, his followers saw and understood that the Son of God was resurrected and seated at the right hand of his Father. The seasons of birth, death, and rebirth had cycled through. God’s will was done.

The story of Easter is filled with many powerful lessons.  Let’s examine a few.

We Each Bear Our Own Cross:  Jesus carried his cross publicly through the streets of Jerusalem. We carry our respective crosses in private. Publicly or privately, suffering is universal. Life is a series of challenges and tests. Some larger than others. There is comfort in knowing that no one is immune from adversity in life. Not even the Son of God.

Let Faith Be Your Guide: Tragedy, sorrow, pain exist in the world. We must trust that God gives us the strength to endure the struggles we each encounter. Faith means walking forward. Finding strength in prayer. As with Jesus, when doubt exists praying for

For me, the word faith holds special meaning. I draw strength from the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.” Trusting in God, I choose to walk forward even though my path is often unclear.


Seek Solace In Beauty: It was no accident that Jesus spent the night before his crucifixion in the Garden of Gethsemane. Isolating himself and making peace with what was impending, he sought solace in the contemplative beauty of the natural world. We must do the same. Find peace and calm when the storm approaches. But, also for periods within the storm itself. Close your eyes. Breath. Reflect. Take a quiet moment. Find the beauty in life—in nature, in others and within ourselves.

We Are Never Alone: Our burdens are uniquely our own. Stumbling, collapsing, with bodies aching, we bear the weight of our crosses like the lone figure of Jesus, who carried his through the narrow streets of Jerusalem. And like Jesus, we are never alone. Along that road to Golgotha, his Mother Mary was there for him. Sharing his pain through utter grief and sorrow. So too did the women of Jerusalem who openly wept for him. Veronica expressed her sympathy, providing her veil for Jesus to wipe his forehead. Mary Magdalene knelt at the cross;  she kissed his feet.  Reminders through the ages that although others cannot carry our crosses for us, they do support us, grieve with us and by their mere presence lessen our burden.

God’s Will Is Sometimes Not Our Own: On the Cross, in utter despair and agony, Jesus cries, “Why have you forsaken me?” Like Jesus, we sometimes feel forsaken. Asked to carry a burden we wish not to bear. Not knowing the higher purpose, we question His will. And like Jesus, not understanding our suffering often has more to do with others than ourselves. That there is no choice but to endure.


For sure, all challenges in life, particularly the difficult and painful ones, need not be a lesson. Sometimes, surviving the day, keeping on going is enough. No need to be a champion or hero, just get through. As Churchill said, “When going through Hell, keep going.”

Forgiveness is Always Possible:  Jesus’ words, ““Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” is a priceless example of the power of forgiveness. Jesus forgave Judas who betrayed him. He forgave Pontius Pilate who sentenced him to death to save himself. And Jesus, despite mental and physical exhaustion, forgave the men who mocked, flogged, and cruelly nailed him to the Cross for an agonizing and unconscionable death. That Jesus courageously forgave those who betrayed, condemned and murdered him shows us that no deed is so great as to be unforgivable.


LOVE – Live In Service of Others:  Easter is a love story.  One in which, Jesus lovingly laid down his life for others, and called each of us to live and love in the same manner. To love not just friends, but enemies too. Jesus lived and died by this belief. On Calvary, the hill of criminals, he forgave the repentant thief hanging on the cross beside him. And while experiencing unimaginable pain, he relieved the pain of others through the forgiveness he offered. Humbly seeing those shunned by society as his equals, hence worthy of compassion. Teaching us to love those who are challenging to love, because they need it the most.

To Everything, There Is A Season: Every Winter is followed by a Spring. Reminding us that in of the cycle of life the pendulum ever swings. The seasons of our lives bring light to darkness. Strength to sorrow.  For every birth, there is death. For every tear, a chance of laughter. With every hardship, the promise of redemption. As captured in Ecclesiastes 3, hope springs eternal.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

Now, my mind returns to the Learning Commons, where sunbeams stream through its windows. I think about the first three Hail Mary prayers dedicated to Faith, Hope, and Love.  How they, like safety, shelter, food, and water make possible my continual survival. The way I lean on them when the challenges are great. That they guide and light my way forward. 


Let’s rejoice in the new beginnings that Spring heralds. Remembering the messages of Easter. Faith moves us forward. Hope offers the possibility of renewal. Love is our constant companion on the road of life.

He has risen so we might rise too.