It's hard for us to take a breath. Sometimes that's a literal truth, but I mean it metaphorically here. It's hard to catch a breath with so much going on in our lives and our world. But there's a breath we don't have to catch. It's one that's given freely: the breath of Christ.
It seems like it should be easier to take a breath, doesn't it? As a pastor, the time before Easter is an extra-busy one, with more worship gatherings to plan and lead, more events to coordinate, and more people to connect with. "I'll need to take a look at that after Easter" becomes a default answer to requests that come in, especially during the couple of weeks prior to Holy Week (which starts Palm Sunday and runs through Easter Sunday).
But then we get to "after Easter", and the space to take a look at those things, that I think will be easier to find, seems to be swallowed up. And for young families, it's all intensified when spring break coincides with Easter. After Easter, the kids of course resume school, and their extra-curricular activities, and they start their new spring activities. Programs at the church pick up again, and new efforts are getting started which require significant effort to get them going.
I'm not complaining; please don't get me wrong. These are good things that are happening. It just becomes a lot. I hear it from young families all the time: "How are things?" "Busy." "Yeah, us too." It can be hard to catch a breath.
And then, tragedy strikes.
Almost the whole world has by now heard of the terrible tragedy of the bus crash that has killed 15 members of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey organization. It's an unspeakably tragic event that has changed families' lives forever. It impacts so many people in so many different ways. There is so much to work through— not only for those most affected: the families of those who have died, and the immediate members of the club and of the city—but for others around the world who are connected in some way.
I'm not personally connected to the hockey club, but a friend of mine is a pastor there who's working so hard to minister to so many grieving people. A friend of mine from high school lives there now. So I'm connected in some small way, just like so many others are.
And these connections, while in so many ways good, can also add to the sense of being overwhelmed. The outpouring of support, which is needed and valuable, can become a flood. And how does it become that?
Social media has amplified our lives to such a degree that we're now more aware of everything that happens in our world. And we're not only aware, we're compelled to act. My Facebook feed is now almost all related to Humboldt: news stories of people and companies lining up to support, people changing their profile pictures to a Bronco border, posting pics of the hockey sticks outside their doors, linking to GoFundMe accounts, and much more. All good things. Yet we're so hyper-aware now that it seems callous not to participate in these gestures, which are all so full of love and support. and that just amplifies things further.
So it becomes harder to take a breath. Even this writing project, which I love doing and which I have so many "concept" posts begun for, takes a backseat to all the other needs. I find myself even questioning whether I should continue to work on it, because I know that to be meaningful, there needs to be a certain frequency of posting. I can't just write once every couple of months and expect to have a sustained connection with people who might resonate with what I have to say.
So now, in this space after Easter which is so quickly consumed, here's a post that I'm questioning even as I write it. Will it be seen as callous? Rambling? Pointless? I'm not in the ideal rhythm of like to be able to be writing clear-headed profound posts like I envision writing all the time, and so I question the value of saying anything at all.
But I'm going to post it anyway. Because maybe there are others out there who will resonate with this reality that it's hard to take a breath. But we breathe anyway. And we put one foot in front of the other and take the next step. And we know that our God, who loves us enough that He gave His only Son for us, is with us.
This afternoon I began a new module of a Bible class I teach at my church, and we had a quick look at Matthew 28:16-20. We were focused on the task of studying, and noticing word choices between English translations, and talking about how to read, study, and apply the Bible. So we didn't explicitly study the last words of that passage. But the Holy Spirit has just reminded me of them now. They're a promise of Jesus, made to His chosen Apostles as representatives of the whole Christian Church. I'm reminded of them, and also of the Gospel reading for this past Sunday (John 20:19-31) where the breath of Jesus was upon those Apostles, and through His breath they received the Holy Spirit. So these words of our Saviour stay with me now, and, I pray, with you too.
And behold, I myself am with you always, to the end of the age.