Discover more from A Letter from Rocco
but what if it's not so happy
In the Catholic tradition, we celebrate Easter as an octave. What this means is that Easter is just far too joyful and far too great a mystery to just be celebrated on one day. So instead, we celebrate it for 8 days straight, the entirety of Easter Week. It really is meant to be one big party where no other celebrations are taking place. Just resurrection, resurrection, resurrection.
When I was in the convent, each year I was determined to celebrate the entire octave of Easter. This meant a whole lot of sugar and usually I was tapped out by the time Friday rolled around.
Rocco, however, is quite the partier. Rocco would never get tired of eating, whether it’s baby carrots or kibble or bones. Little buddy, if he had a rational capacity, would be able to celebrate Easter with great gusto. Until then, here is a picture of him in a hat that looks strangely like an Easter bonnet.
Rocco is a beagle and beagles are known especially for being gluttons (same, if we’re being honest). But this is so extreme that Rocco would quite literally never stop eating, to the point where it would actually be dangerous for him.
Well, the Easter newsletter just took a turn.
This year, there are a few things keeping me back from going all-in on Easter celebrations. I’m at a point, honestly, where I don’t think that I can fully experience the joy of the Resurrection because I am still so deeply suffering. I was driving for 10 hours on Easter Sunday and I probably cried for 3 of them thinking of the Resurrection and experiencing a deep conflict about it in the depths of my soul. I have joyful hope that one day the day will come, that Jesus will see me through that suffering, but that day is not today.
And then I think of my little buddy Rocco. I think about how he can’t really celebrate Easter (or any day, really) like he wants to. And that’s a good thing.
Around Christmas time, there is a great deal of discussion about what to do if the holiday is difficult for you, such as if there was a death in the family or your family doesn’t get along or there is some kind of trauma related to it. In secular writing, most of the suggestions are practical: treat it like another day, do something nice for yourself, take a trip, respect boundaries, etc..
In Christian writing on the same topic, we usually instruct people to focus on the “reason for the season,” on the fact that God became one of us and that brings great joy. That’s one thing for Christmas because, after all, everyone loves babies.
Easter is a little bit different, though. Not being able to experience the joy of the Resurrection seems like it begs judgment on our own spiritual state. After all, how hard does your heart have to be to not experience joy that God was dead and now He lives forever??
When I first began confronting my trauma, I was actually pretty mad at Jesus when I looked at him on the cross. After all, he suffered for a maximum of 24 hours and then it was over. Two days later, he rose. And boom, Alleluia, death reigns no more, and so on.
What do we do when our suffering lasts longer than 24 hours? What do we do when our Good Friday is not expelled by Easter Sunday? Do we have the power and the strength to say, “Alleluia”?
Well, we can do what Rocco does. We can get every bit of enjoyment out of what we’ve been given, even though we know it’s not everything.
In fact, I think acknowledging that we wish we could better celebrate Easter is important. Too often in Church circles, we give the sense that we have it all together when none of us truly does. We’re left pretending to be filled with joy, left feeling isolated, left wondering if Jesus has forgotten about us in the midst of caring for everyone around us.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about my Jesus, it’s that he wants us to be honest. If we’re not feeling the joy of the Resurrection, He wants us to let Him know. The joy of the Resurrection is not a surface-level experience, it’s something that comes from Him. If God hasn’t given it to us, pretending doesn’t do any good.
This is where I have a little rant about Christian witness in general: we fabricate it far too often. We create who we think God is and what we think we should say about His work in our lives, leaving out parts that are messy or that haven’t been fully resolved yet.
But if we believe the Resurrection is real— and it is— then Good Friday is real too. And as much as we love, believe, and hope, the reality is that some of us are living a long Good Friday and God is just as present there as He is on Easter Sunday.
But unlike Rocco, who would gladly indulge if given the chance to eat and entire 20-lb bag of dog food, we can wait. We can be grounded in God’s love in the moment. We can wait, trusting that His timing is perfect. We can proclaim the joy of the Resurrection from the midst of the darkness of Good Friday, not from the other side of it.
This, I believe, is what our world needs more than anything. Our world doesn’t need people who proclaim that suffering is . Our world needs people who can honestly and with conviction say, “And even then, He is good.”
I have a feeling that’s what Rocco says to himself when he realizes he’s only getting one bone.
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