I love that word: Eastertide. Call it an ever-rising flow of Resurrection. Or the sudden ebbing of waters too deep for us to handle. Either way there we are: washed up or set down on soft sands, soaked to the core, breathless, giddy with survival. I think of the Apostle Peter, bone tired and confounded, back in the old boat after three years away from those hefty nets because he didn’t know what else to do. Risen?…so…? And that delirious plunge into the sea to stagger to shore on dawn-tide, to face a new fire fueled by old shame: Do you love me? Aren’t you one of them? Lord, you know everything.
There is more: days of appearances, days of Resurrection sitings, Jesus cropping up unexpectedly, splitting open stifling silences, saying Peace. Peace be with you. It takes days, weeks, to get a grip, to take it in: He is risen.
For the past few years we have participated in an Easter feast practice of sharing aloud with fellow feasters the way we have seen Christ’s resurrection in our own lives that year…something akin to the Thanksgiving tradition of sharing that which you are thankful for…but more. The question sends you–it sent me–deep into the dead places, the Friday or Saturday places, the “guess I’ll go back to my boat” places, the places into which I do not yet know how to receive Christ’s words: “Peace be with you,” not to mention muster an answer to his question, “Do you love me?” This year on Easter Sunday I wept because I felt so stuck…panicked, almost, like the moment you realize you are a very small swimmer in a very large sea, and it is getting the better of you. I tried to roll onto my back, you might say, breathe through the adrenaline rush of anxiety, let the tide carry me to safer waters.
It is taking every last minute of the season–the fullness of Eastertide–for me to draw near to the Resurrected Christ. For all his zeal and even though he was one of the first to the empty tomb, it seems Peter hung back in those first encounters with Christ-back-from-the-dead. I imagine him choking back hope that it might really be true, guarding his roughed-up heart and so terribly aware of himself–of who he didn’t manage to be when his moment of truth came. Not until that early morning breakfast on the beach, does it sink in: Now, Peter. Now and not before. Now is your moment of truth. Come and have breakfast. Take. Eat. Do you love me? The tide turns, the ocean floor rises, the answer is ashore.