My Easter story.
A few years ago, we took our daughter to Montreal where she was going to further her education. Years of hard work and hours of practice led to an opportunity for her to pursue her love of music. Tears streamed down the cheeks of this daughter of ours, this daughter who was not prone to tears, as we drove away from our home and farm in the darkness of the early morning. The journey forward is not always without a tearing away from what was and that is just hard.
Feeling like country bumpkins, we did our best to help her navigate the admissions office with all the admission details. Later we found a place to sit and have some lunch, and as we waited for our food, I saw our girl once again overcome with tears. We started wondering what we were doing leaving her there. Though this was something she decided to do and there was a plan in place, at this moment she would have liked to have “this cup taken from her” and frankly, we wanted to take it from her.
That evening, before dining with the family she was going to be living with, she puddled again. As parents, our hearts were like weights inside us, and we questioned our judgement in supporting her in this move. We had predetermined when we were going to leave to head back home, but the more I saw her homesickness, the sooner I was ready to go as there was nothing more I could do for her. She had made decisions about her future, and in spite of the separation, wanted to move forward with them. We supported the plan, but I was having difficulty watching her, my daughter, be in that shadow place.
And somewhere in one of those moments a dawning happened for me. I thought of the line in a song we sing at church – “The Father turned His face away” – and that line was almost instantly reframed. I had always thought the Father turning His face away when His beloved son was in his darkest hour, had to do with God’s holiness and not being able to look on sin. If we as parents have a hard time seeing our children suffer, would not God as Parent be even more that way? Maybe God didn’t look away so much because of a holiness thing but because of a deep love thing. Maybe if God the Parent kept watching the precious son in that dark hour, God couldn’t have kept from stepping in and aborting the plan. Maybe God the Parent turned away, hunched over with face in hands, and moaned and wept in pain and separation as the son determinedly but brokenly went through with the plan to its bitter but hopeful end. Maybe this wasn’t about “the wrath of God being satisfied” but about the love of God being wrung right out.
We said good-bye to our daughter on a warm summer day on a sidewalk in Montreal, all of us crying. We headed towards home with a heaviness that signified a transition to a new era. She walked away to an exam and embraced the new life before her. And she never experienced homesickness again!
Montreal has become part of the fabric of our family’s tapestry. The reframing of the God’s face turning from the son has been threaded into my continued evolving faith story.
That is my Easter story.