The name for this blog comes from the Hebrew word merchab. Merchab is a masculine noun that appears most often in the Psalms of the Hebrew Scriptures. It means a broad or roomy place, an expansive place, a wide place. Read more...

April 11, 2009

Easter Miracle

The Globe and Mail has a beautiful Easter story posted on Good Friday April 10, 2009. The original can be viewed here: In case it disappears, I include the whole article below.

Facts & Arguments Essay

Easter miracle


From Friday's Globe and Mail April 10, 2009 at 12:00 AM EDT

Easter came early last year. Most of the country was coming out of a deep cold. And my 19-year-old sister had just died because of a misdiagnosis at a medical clinic.

From her bed in Victoria, where she lived on her own to go to college, she text-messaged my father in Saskatoon saying, "I'm scared." My mother booked a flight to go see her, not because she thought my little sister was in serious danger, but to be there for her. No one knew it, not my parents and certainly not the clinic that treated her hours before her death, but her lungs were filling up. She had undiagnosed pneumonia and died suddenly, with no goodbyes.

Rachel came fifth in a family of seven siblings, the youngest of three daughters. I was nine when she was born, old enough to hold her on my hip. That was only part of our dynamic, though. She had achieved such grace and level-headedness by her mid-teens that I, an adult, didn't know whether to baby her or to ask her for advice. When I'd tell her of something needlessly dramatic I'd done, she would laugh out loud, her eyes bright with incredulous amusement.

She was a great kid. Just having emerged from her gawky high-school years (complete with braces), she didn't know how pretty she was. As a child, she kept a tidy bedroom in a rambunctious household and got straight As in school. I once found her kneeling at her bedside. She earnestly read books like Attitudes of Gratitude. The kids she babysat across the street would peer out their front window when she was coming over and squeal, "Rachel's coming! Rachel's coming!"

She was that kind of girl. Promising, and at the age of 19, in bloom.

And then in an hour it turned into a horror show. Running out the door of a coffee shop and down the street whimpering when I guessed the news from an urgent e-mail. Shopping for a brand-new white Lululemon hoodie for Rachel to wear in her casket. Waiting in Saskatoon for her body to arrive in cargo from Victoria. Touching my sister's hairline for the last time, the only part of her body that reminded me of her. Her face was a mask of hideous brown makeup: a stranger's face. What I was touching was a corpse.

From dust to dust.

My mother, a devout Catholic, has arguments about Christianity with her children all the time. We usually tell her we believe in Christian values, but that's it. We believe in the golden rule: Love others as you love yourself. We'll even concede that Jesus can be seen in the face of a stranger. A junkie sleeping on a grate on the sidewalk, Pope John Paul II: Their souls have the same value in the eyes of God. You have been made in God's image. Your soul is worth more than all the dollars in the world.

But my mom always tells us that Christianity is more than that. Atheists believe in the golden rule too. What you need is a personal relationship with Christ.

Saying things like that makes people cringe, especially teenagers, even more so your kids. But I think last March I went and fulfilled my mother's prophecy. The meaning of Easter pierced my newly vulnerable heart with its miraculous promise. Everything else was clouded with grief, yet I found myself focusing my tired eyes on that hope.

I went to Easter mass alone in Toronto, across the country from the rest of my family, to be surrounded with what churchgoing people are called to celebrate at Easter: hope. Heaven. Turning our minds to that myth or that miracle: that God would suffer a mortal death and, in so doing, open up the doors to life after death for us.

Before Rachel died, Easter had never taken for me. Jesus was waiting for me in heaven?

Then one day it changes. Suddenly heaven has a face, Rachel's face, and I need it.

Easter celebrates that what's finite and what's infinite intersect, that there's life on Earth and there's life outside of it. Easter is an annual celebration for a reason: so that we're constantly aware that our earthly existence is insignificant compared to what awaits us. The entire church season pounds this into our consciousness.

When I stood in the congregation at Easter mass, I could think only two things: "Rachel" and "heaven." I thought of seeing Rachel's sweet face again, and it was like a hand ran over my heart. The idea of heaven came to me stronger than I could ever have expected.

I have survived my first awful year without my little sister. That sliver of hope for heaven that I felt at the Easter service has often evaded me, but I'll tell you something: It has meant more to me than hugs, cards, flowers, human kindness, the compassion of employers and certainly the notion that Rachel will "live on in memories."

Easter. Spring. It's a time of hope. Millions of Canadians are celebrating hope this weekend. And as a cradle Catholic, I am perhaps for the first time experiencing the true consolation of my religion.

Alana Trumpy lives in Toronto.

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