When I was a wee girl I remember singing the hymn ‘There Is A Green Hill Far Away’ in my bed one Easter…I was probably about seven at the time. This Easter hymn is very poignant. Big tears were pouring down my face as I sang it. I wasn’t a particularly religious child, though my Dad was a clergyman. I enjoyed it when the bats stirred in our country church’s rafters during services and managed to scratch a rudimentary drawing of a pony’s head in the pew we usually used. Dad was sometimes so moved by some uplifting sermon he was giving that I feared he might burst into tears (he didn’t though his voice sometimes got quavery). The main thing I knew about Jesus was that he seemed like a very nice guy who could do the most amazing things with loaves and fishes etc. There was a very nice big picture of him on our landing surrounded by a bunch of people. He looked very handsome in it…rather like one of those long haired soulful hippies I later admired as a teenager.
I don’t know why the awfulness of the crucifixion suddenly dawned on me that evening when I was singing that hymn alone in my room. The lines included: ‘We may not know, we cannot tell, What pains He had to bear; But we believe it was for us, He hung and suffered there.’
I usually only sang hymns when I was required to. The smallness of our congregation meant that I usually sang fairly loudly in church to show support for Dad. (There aren’t that many Protestants in southern Ireland.) But that evening I did feel very sorry for poor Jesus even though I usually associated Easter with lots of chocolate. When Mum came into my room and smiled in a comforting manner I could see she was surprised by my sadness. I probably felt a bit pleased about this. It probably hadn’t occurred to me that the tears might seem impressively ‘devout’. My thoughts would have quickly turned to chocolate etc of course. My interest in Jesus at that time was usually pretty distant.
These days his message of love moves me far more than it used to. And to sense that kind of immense love we need to be in contact with our hearts. The mind may have lots of opinions, but our hearts can take us to far bigger, spacious and tender places.
Just got a text message from a friend that says there is an Easter bunny I can add to my stash of chocolate. Better go and collect him!
Lots of love,
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