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Easter Reflections From Kenya

It is the Quiet Saturday before Easter Sunday, when thousands of years ago the universe held its breath, awaiting the vindication of God for the as-yet-unveiled Messiah, Jesus. That vindication came in the most unexpected form–the resurrection of the dead! Long looked-for, but almost overlooked when it did come, Jesus became the firstfruits of that most remarkable of events, the completion of which we still eagerly desire.

I am writing at the Tumaini orphanage, near Nyeri, Kenya (where I have extended my stay an additional 5 weeks). From where I am sitting, I can see no end of reasons why we should continue to eagerly await that desire. It is the one fundamental hope that undergirds every other, because it is the hope which defeats the oldest and hardest of all despairs, which is Death itself. I have a lot of reasons (or so I think) to despair at the moment, and when I look at the children who surround me, I know that they have many more and legitimate ones–some have reason to despair even of life, which I know nothing about.

But there is one hope, that the one thing which is the most wrong with the universe can be righted. More to the point, it has been, if we have eyes to see. The fact that people still die is now the illusion, the lie struggling to prevail against the coming truth, which is already true, but which will shine forth in infinite clarity at some time yet to come.

And, as every despair, no matter how small, really derives its life in some way from Death, so the key to every hope, no matter how small, can be found in this one hope of life regained, and made indestructible. Though I have no other hope to cling to, yet this one hope will prove to be my salvation! And this is true, not just for those like me who have never tasted the true Sickness Unto Death, but also for those who have. It is the one firm rock on which to build my relationship towards the universe–the cornerstone which the builders have rejected, but which has, in time and in its turn, become the capstone.

This year, I have not appropriately contemplated all that I could contemplate during Holy Week, nor have I appropriately prepared myself to experience another Easter in the fullest way. However, I am certainly in a place to appreciate and long for the unique comfort which is the hope of the resurrection of the dead (and it is the telltale signs of that future resurrection in Jesus’ own resurrection which we celebrate tomorrow). I believe the renewal and serious appreciation of this hope is just what Easter celebration is all about.

“Tumaini” means “hope” in Swahili.

In past years, I have traditionally created some piece of art on Easter to commemorate the day (for instance, the two monologues I wrote for Easter 2003 ). I do not know if such will happen tomorrow, but at any rate think that in view of what the hope of Easter really is, nothing can be for me a more appropriate offering than the Suite Apocalyptique I posted in a recent entry (click here to read about and download it), given that its central theme is exactly this one of resurrection hope. Perhaps it will be of benefit to you in your Easter worship!

So, Happy Easter! Christ is risen indeed!

I will leave you with a poem, the lyrics to one of the songs in the Suite (Mvmt VI: The Sun Rises):

I breathe at last, the work is done
Like shining glass, sea and sun
Are sharp and real, bright blades of love
Which grew to heal the wounds of

Night is over now
Night is over now
The sun is coming up

But don’t turn away from the flames
These brilliant rays annul our shame
The fire burns, but we stand
For which we yearn is in our hands

When we touch the earth, it sings rejoicing
For the day has dawned, and we have returned
To ourselves as we were meant to be
To the world as it has longed to be

I breathe at last, the work is done
The shadow passed, and life begun

By Jonathan Lipps

Jonathan has been making things out of code as long as he can remember. Jonathan is the architect and project lead for Appium, the popular open source automation framework. He is also the founding Principal of Cloud Grey, a consulting firm devoted to helping clients leverage the power of Appium successfully. He has worked as a programmer in tech startups for over 15 years, but is also passionate about academic discussion. Jonathan has master’s degrees in philosophy and linguistics, from Stanford and Oxford respectively. Living in Vancouver, he’s an avid musician, and also writes on the philosophy of technology.

3 replies on “Easter Reflections From Kenya”

“The fact that people still die is now the illusion, the lie struggling to prevail against the coming truth, which is already true, but which will shine forth in infinite clarity at some time yet to come.”

wow – that’s a powerful hope. I personally find it a hard one to hold onto unless I do so kind of “blindly” — i.e. forgetting the billions of years of death that preceeded (and provided for) my life, forgetting that all the parts of my mind that I think of as me, like my memories and my personality and my skills and my awareness of relationships, are encoded in the interlocking chemical networks of my exceedingly fragile neural grey matter.

There’s another hope — a different one that nevertheless defeats despair and triumphs against death: it involves the loss of self-as-center, and recognizing my participation in a much larger creation — one that has been groaning towards becoming for far longer than I have been around to participate in it, and that I hope will continue to become long after I (as “me”) am around to take part.

That is a hope that is only hopeful if I care more about ‘us’ than about me, if in fact I love ‘us’ with all of my person and give myself towards its becoming. I’m still pretty far from such an unconditional, self-offering love, but I see it modeled in Jesus and that gives me something to aim for….

Interesting, G! Though, I wasn’t quite sure if you are saying that the idea of individual, embodied eternal continuity is so hard to grasp (or so selfish) that you prefer another hope–some kind of resurrection-as-corporate-enlightenment/survival. (About which: I certainly agree that the latter hope is only hopeful if we care more about ‘us’ than ‘me’!)

It may be a mark simply of my selfishness, but I find the former hope more immediately stirring (‘hopeful’, I guess), insofar as there is a real continuity between the me-in-despair and the me-after-the-hope-fulfilment. Such hope is graspable for me in virtue of it making sense as the next stage of a narrative, other parts of which (Jesus and his own resurrection) I have already seen.

If I were to enter a period of re-evaluation of the meaning of those previous events, however, I could easily see that graspability fading.

Let me know if I was reading your comment too polemically or something; I certainly found it intriguing!

jonathan,
this is morganne from the previous posted comment from your previous post. [hope you muddled through that].
thank you for your easter reflections and for being articulate with them. to Jesus, and the hope he has brought and continues to bring. thank you as well for your musical recordings. i have not had the chance to listen fully, but it is cool to think that you recorded it in the chapel – a place i have sat many times. christmas eve at midnight stands out the most – that was quite beautiful.
until the next –
morganne.

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