Last night I drove over to Mt. Irenaeus in the gathering twilight. Just as I got there and opened the door of my car I could see the most beautiful array of stars. Last night was truly beautiful. After stopping in the House of Peace and visiting with many dear friends whom I’ve met in years gone by I made my way to the chaapel area. There were perhaps thirty of us assembled in the crisp night air around a pile of sticks that would soon be ablaze with the fire symbolic of the risen Christ. As the liturgy began, Fr. Dan Riley, OFM invited us to look up and behold the firmament above us and to contemplate the darkness that the light of Christ pierces. Though darkness sometimes frightens me, I felt reassured and blessed last night looking up in the middle of this assembly. It’s not really the darkness that frightens me, it is the uncertainty. Last night surrounded by the presence of so many friends and especially the familiar Franciscan friars of this friary I felt welcomed and reassured.
As the fire was lit and the liturgy began, Fr. Dan said, “This is the Passover of the Lord,” and then as now a reassuring presence gripped me. This is a presence that transcends doctrine and theology but picks me up and reassures me that all is well with the universe. Easter is a celebration of life. The Easter vigil at Mt. Irenaeus has been for me a reaffirmation of that celebration and as I sat and listened to the readings in the chapel with my own little candle and heard the creation story from Genesis I was reminded how important it is to hear those stories of how we came to be, not only the stories of Genesis but the stories of each of our families and how we fit. Our lives are celebration of life and to the precise extent that we don’t celebrate our lives we miss out on the resurrection. All around me this morning I see the resurrection in the robins on our lawn, the warm sun on my back, the blue sky in the distance, the awakened earth beneath my feet. The earth is alive, it is risen, we are risen. Lets go forth and celebrate that. Let’s live that.