Commentary

Easter is the season when hope and history rhyme

The Irish poet, Seamus Heaney, wrote this:

History says, Don’t hope
on this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
the longed-for tidal wave
of justice can rise up
and hope and history rhyme.

It seems to me there are ample reasons to agree that to hope on this side of the grave is futile. Any grave portends the eerie end of things. We now have this effect magnified by our awareness of mass graves, the result of the slaughter of innocents by mad despots. Natural calamities like the tsunamis also produce mass graves. We will all end up in a grave of some sort, someday, someplace. And there is no hope of any kind that can prevent it. History confirms this.

Can we reasonably expect to find hope within history? Can hope and history really rhyme? The poet avers that “once in a lifetime … hope and history rhyme.” Heaney was writing about an ancient mythological happening at Troy, when Odysseus packed soldiers into a wooden horse. But we, as Christians, dare to believe that hope and history rhyme in a decisive and ultimate victory over the grave in the resurrection of Jesus on Easter morning.

Our hope in the midst of our history is based entirely on a living Christ sharing his victory over the grave with us. We can hope on this side of the grave! Because he lives, we too shall live. In the midst of life’s journey, with all its attendant pain, sorrow and loss, we can live fearlessly and fully because at Easter hope and history rhyme.

Valen serves Christ the King Lutheran Church, Bloomington, Minnesota, as an interim pastor.