Easter Sunday & Walking Out of Circles

"The Projectionist" - Geoff Benzing_edited

I hadn’t seen my dad in over a decade, but today was the day I was going to see him.

There’s an expanse of yellow land with barren trees littered to the sides and in the distance, lit by the moon. All that breathed was a soft breeze seeping with foreign notions of non-darkness.

It was twilight. Not that I knew that from the horizon. Hearing only the scratchy tuning of an orchestra, you’d think I’d want nothing of a symphony. Seeing only pitch-dark horizons, you’d think I’d want nothing of a dawn. But I did.

But we do.

By some miraculous & endless itch, we secretly know that all that is does not equal all that we were meant for.

This is a Resurrection Sunday story, a breaking out of a circle story.

My bare feet crunched through the tall yellow grass toward the unknown. Time, distance, & loneliness made my mind into a luxurious theater of one.

Now my mind played a haunting film reel—you know, the film with the nostalgic dust & choppy playback, except this one kept playing the scene with me outside the house, bleary-eyed and broken-hearted, my teeth firmly biting into a tattered pillow wet by a bitter trifecta of drool, teardrops, and raindrops. A wide-eyed child’s innocence became a millennial’s cynicism that day.

You’d have to forgive the film choice. I didn’t pick the film any more than a peach picks its bruises, and the man who kept me from the inside was the man I’d be seeing this morning. Not that I knew it was morning from the horizon. Crunching through yellow grass, you’d think I’d want nothing of lush green meadows either. Sitting in a theatre with only tragedies, you’d think I’d want nothing of fairy tale redemption. But I did.

But we do.

By some miraculous & endless itch—deeper than the bruise and beyond the script—I knew that all that was did not equal all that was meant.

This is a Resurrection Sunday story, a breaking out of a circle story.

I wandered ‘til I was wandering in a dark forest. And then I wandered some more, through dark forest into darker forest. A tree was the gateway to a small opening with a fire going in the distance. The sign pinned on it warning robbers to stay out. They knew who they were, the robbers did.

A knot formed in my chest & trembling beginning to wear through my frame I kept my feet crunching against the yellow grass. I knew the man imminently in front of me, and I knew the ghosts that walked behind me.

Knew them by name, in fact.

Roynell was the one with the 2x4, the nail, and the peculiar method of parent discipline. Brad was his son who ran away, broke his back in the mines & spent his waking life asleep in a dark room befriended by six packs. Now, they were both my walking companions, but the hateful whispers they breathed into my mind hardly qualified them as friends.

They climbed on my back while I approached the fire. A horrible scent—a combination of cigarette smoke, stale urine, & cheap shampoo—wafted through the air. Alongside the fire was a makeshift tent composed of tree branches & dead leaves.

Alongside the makeshift tent, a man in a tattered dark brown coat & black stocking cap heard the ground crunching and turned around.

A face emerged, mangled & disfigured beyond belief, putting an end to my advance. Burn marks covered his body. Scars strewn across his face & forehead. Come to think of it, everything about him was disfigured.

I hoped he couldn’t see my feet on their heels. The theatre of one pulsated with images of abandonment & crutches of half-hearted independence. Let loose across the screens were fireworks of hopes met by fatherlessness, a feathered soul clipped by a family heirloom.

It was a circle.

Roynell walked it.

Brad walked it.

The man in front of me was walking it.

Would I walk it?

The script was set. Bruises covered me, and a circle lay in front of me. The disfigured man walked in a circle around the fire. Everything about him repulsed me except his eyes. They pierced me with utter sincerity & contrition, quietly turning his head as he walked to keep his gaze with a muffled love, hot tears now beginning to stream down his face. He knew I’d walk the circle, just like him.

Feet approaching the circle, I suddenly remembered the sound I’d heard. I paused to hear breathing, that soft breeze seeping with foreign notions of non-darkness reminding me it was twilight.

I danced with my dad in that circle as the horizon morphed into Carolina blue.

You’d think I wouldn’t.

Experiencing only darkness, you’d think I’d want nothing of a dawn.

Only walking in circles, you’d think I’d know nothing about dancing in them.

But I did.

So do we.

I danced with my dad in that circle while the horizon morphed into goldenrod.

He sputtered frenzied apologies while his mending scars revealed a new face. He kept sputtering apologies until laughter started carbonating up and out of his lungs. We danced & laughed our way of the circle.

This is my Resurrection Sunday story, my dancing out of a circle story.

If Good Friday reminds us that everything is broken, then Easter is the reminder that we’re not native to it.

If Good Friday sobs to remind that we experience life like a horrible nightmare for which we can’t remember the beginning, Easter giggles & tells us that new beginnings are a thing that happen in our real, actual lives.

If Good Friday tells us we walk in circles, then Easter says there’s One who walked those circles to break them.

I’m not a soapbox preacher, but did you know that Jesus danced with death?

Easter tells the story of a plain Jesus laughing & loving among us, breaking all kinds of people out of all kinds of circles before he confronted the circle of death that plagues all of us.

He stared the pitch-dark face of death in the face & lived to see God raise him from the dead. He invites people in a whosoever way to follow him into a new creation where all relationships are restored to love, all the aches in our soul are healed, and God establishes Jesus as King once & for all.

In other words, Easter ain’t about Jesus validating a bunch of tickets to heaven he purchased. It’s about heaven knocking down earth’s doors & inviting itself in all kinds of unforeseen places. The question isn’t if heaven’s comin’ on down, but who will join & follow Jesus into the new creation that plays peekaboo with us every day.

And you?


photo source: sleeping at last's "light" album. The writing here is partially inspired by the songs "heirloom" and "the projectionist."

#Easter #resurrection #wonder #stories #family #imagination