On Easter joy, dancing, and Journey
I have a grandnephew named Carson who is nine years old and is astoundingly fun to be around. He is enthusiastic and energetic and caring, and his excitement about so many things is infectious. I know I usually only see him once a year, and I'm sure his parents and sisters could try and tell me things about living with Carson that aren't so fun, but I wouldn't listen to them if they tried.
Carson is an extraordinary dancer. He's not a classically trained dancer or anything like that, it's just that when the right piece of music comes on (like Journey's “Don't Stop Believin'”) something just seems to take over him and he's in the middle of the living room floor twirling and jumping and moving his arms with shocking intensity even before Steve Perry's sublime voice starts singing about that small town girl livin' in a lonely world. One gets the feeling that dancing is not optional with Carson; it seems for him the only logical response to what he's feeling inside. There clearly is no other way to express it in quite the same way.
I've been delving into ancient Easter sermons in these days and I read once again one of my favourites from John Chrysostom. It is surprisingly short – maybe only about five minutes long – and so well-crafted that one can easily see why he was given the name Chrysostom, which means “golden mouth.” I'm not sure John Chrysostom would have been described as “astoundingly fun to be around,” like my Carson, but he certainly was possessed of a similar enthusiasm, energy, care and excitement in his preaching, and even got some dancing in as well:
“Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether first or last, receive your reward. O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy! O you ascetics and you negligent, celebrate the day! You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today! The table is rich-laden; feast royally, all of you! The calf is fatted; let no one go forth hungry!”
It just doesn't get much better than that, I think. It's that excitement that we need to try and find in our current Easter world which in many ways still looks a lot like Lent. But it's NOT Lent. Christ has risen as he said he would, and sheer, unadulterated joy – fun, even – is the only logical response.
If joy is hard to come by because of the stress of living in isolation, or the fear and sadness of our current situation is making it difficult to really embrace that joy, it seems to me we owe it to ourselves to find it wherever we can and cling to it like a dancer to his partner. This day I am getting glimpses of it in my memories of a kid jumping and twirling on the other side of the world, singing along with fevered breath a message that old Chrysostom himself would approve: “Don't stop believin'. Hold on to the feelin'. Hold on.”