Monday, April 25, 2011

empty metro, empty grave

It's a national holiday here in Romania today and it's supposed to be a whopping sixty-five degrees (celsius: eighteen degrees) which means as soon as I'm done writing this blog, it's to the park.

But I've been wanting to write on here all week, just not sure where to start with it all. Life here continues to surprise me even in the most literal of senses. I spend my Thursday evenings with an American family here, and apart from one other friend, all the rest of life is Romanian. But Thursday nights when I walk to the metro after three or four hours like being in the States, I am surprised to hear Romanian. To see these dark-featured, angular people, their language one still unfamiliar enough that I can listen to the music of it without letting the meaning through.

I am still here? I really live here? This is only once a week, though. Most times I forget about being American, the main two reminders being having to think and try to pronounce and communicate, and then referring to it when my brain stops working and I can't think of anything less uninteresting things to say in conversation. I don't mean I forget that I'm American--no, it's more nuanced than that.

What I mean is that life isn't defined out of where I come from. In the largest and smallest senses it's defined out of what I believe, whose I am. The context isn't: I am from that place but I live in this place--that of course is true but the context is more just that I live in this place. Some things are different, but that's been true of the many places and situations that make up the last ten years. I'm missing it, but I don't know how better to explain it. Crossing culture is really just being graceful and aware and intentional, if you boil it down. Maybe it's not fair to simplify it like that, but I think the kind of problems that come up in a context like this are the many of same ones that come up in life anyway, only the vehicle is different. And communication has to be that much more intentional.

We'll see. Let's say that it is humbling to do this and you become aware of a lot. But it's good.

Anyway, I wanted to write about Easter. Yesterday, all day long, Hristos a inviat! Adevarat a inviat! He is risen, he is risen indeed. And all day long, especially on the way to church, the city so quiet and empty, I wanted to shout it. Our God is alive! He has defeated death, conquered the grave, set the captives free.

My brother's birthday is in a few days so I wrote him a letter two weeks ago and sent him about unbinding the prisoners, somewhere in Isaiah, but I can't find it now. While looking for it I found these (can you tell I like the book of Isaiah?): "On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will removed the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken." (26:7-8)

And so you have this day, the part in the movie where the music swells and the faces of the enemies turn white and there is hope, rejoicing. The scattered disciples will come back together, those disciples who really didn't understand, who fled when Jesus was taken, hope stolen away by the sight of a king on a cross. But he is alive! Again in the movies you have the moment where everything hangs in the balance--good versus evil, all eyes turned to watch which way the scale will tip. And I think probably it felt like that, and certainly wrapping a dead Jesus in linens and spices must leave a feeling of helplessness, a million questions, a what now?

I can't imagine I would have felt differently. But how good it is to look back knowing that it was never a question, that from the moment the world was formed death would be defeated and those weeping women would run from his grave with the good news. And it is.

When I'm alone on the metro I always want to do something silly like dance just because I can and no one will see me. And especially so yesterday, the metro empty, the grave empty. Filled instead with hope and joy (and maybe even a little dancing ;)).

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