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Fifty days

Alleluia, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

However you chose to spend last weekend, it marked the beginning of our celebration of fifty days of Easter. It was St Augustine who declared that "We are an Easter people, and Alleluia is our song!" and the Easter acclamation above will certainly be heard plenty more times before the season's end.

For me, last weekend offered the opportunity to lead public worship again after a significant break. Having put together a new liturgy for the Easter Vigil, I was one of three priests who, on Saturday evening, guided our journey from the darkness of Christ's crucifixion and death into the light of the resurrection, the dawning of the new creation. I was (and remain) so very grateful for that opportunity.

It marked the conclusion of a profound Triduum for me, with so much to reflect upon. After the triumphal joy and exuberance of Easter Day, I was all set to take some time to ponder the meaning behind my various experiences of the previous days. Yet those reflections have had to wait. On Easter Monday, anything and everything that I might have planned was overtaken by unexpected events. I abandoned my studio and left its relative safety to be where I needed to be, entering into deep uncertainty as to what the future might hold.

This isn't the place to share the details of what is happening, save to say that I am well and am set on making temporary adjustments to enable me to continue my art practice no matter what. I have every hope of being back in my studio "properly" as soon as I can be. Yet even these uncertain times have an Easter flavour as I have reflected on them. I wonder how the disciples felt after that first Easter morn, when the discovery of the empty tomb became known. They would have thought things had reached their end on Good Friday; they might have shared together ideas for what they would do next, where they might go. Did they need to make a quick escape from the authorities themselves? Even as they may have been putting together tentative plans, the empty tomb pulls the proverbial rug out from underneath their feet again. I can relate to that.

So when all seems lost - and after three days, even their "lostness" is lost - Christ appears to them. "I have seen the Lord" cries Mary Magdalene to the other disciples. "We have seen the Lord" cry the disciples to Thomas. Our journey through Holy Week and the Easter Triduum never ceases to surprise me, with its constant twists and turns. Nothing is what it seems. Emotions of jubilation turn to desolation and back again in a breath. This is a season of change and shifting sands and transformation. "Do not hold onto me", says the risen Christ to Mary Magdalene in the garden. And so, perhaps, we are being invited not to hold onto our own understandings of what is happening around us; not to hold onto our plans or our time or our gifts, for all can just as quickly be left as empty as an abandoned tomb. We do not close parts of our lives off as if a locked door could protect us from the entering in of our Divine Saviour. If we are to be an Easter people, our only way is to look for the risen Christ in each moment, to acknowledge the presence of the risen Christ in each circumstance, however unexpected or unwelcome it might be.

The Easter gift, then, is life in all its fullness - not necessarily life planned out with careful control and forethought. Rather, this particular Easter season, I am being invited to acknowledge Christ's gift of life one moment at a time. It may be impossible to plan for what comes next. Yet in this present moment, I can always choose simply to acknowledge the eternal truth: Alleluia, Christ is risen; He is risen indeed, alleluia!


Given the above, this may not be the time to set out in detail what I have planned for the next few weeks/months! For now, you can assume that everything I have committed to doing (retreats, artist residency, current commissions etc) will happen, God willing. If you are interested in commissioning new work, or inviting me to speak to your community or group, please do still get in touch and we can work out together what is possible based on the timeframe involved.

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Wishing you well & sending love.

Valeska x

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