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Scuba diver looking at the Happy Easter!

In many Latin American countries, Good Friday is a much more important feast than is Easter Sunday. Many attribute this to the poverty of the people and therefore their more easy identification with the suffering Christ instead of with the risen one. I don’t know if I agree with that. I think, rather, it is the particular form of Catholicism that was brought and preached here from 16th century Spain. It is a Catholicism that emphasizes blood and suffering. Common parallels can be seen with the Catholic expression found here and with that found in the Philippines — remembering that both places were colonized at about the same time.

But I was raised in a different place and with a different version of Catholicism. For me, today is the day. Today we celebrate the conquering of life over death, of hope over despair. We do not dwell in suffering for suffering sake, but with the Easter-filled knowledge that the resurrection comes. Even if we can’t see any hope, we know and celebrate that eventually resurrection arrives.

At the Assisi Community in Washington, D.C., the “theme song” of the community was a hymn written by a Baptist minister, Robert Wadsworth Lowry (and not by the Quakers as it is many times attributed), “How Can I Keep From Singing.” The message is the same. We suffer, but we are a resurrection people and therefore cannot help but sing. The following are the lyrics to the version made popular by Enya.

Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear it’s music ringing,
It sounds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?

While though the tempest loudly roars,
I hear the truth, it liveth.
And though the darkness ’round me close,
Songs in the night it giveth.

No storm can shake my inmost calm,
While to that rock I’m clinging.
Since love is lord of heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?

When tyrants tremble in their fear
And hear their death knell ringing,
When friends rejoice both far and near
How can I keep from singing?

In prison cell and dungeon vile
Our thoughts to them are winging,
When friends by shame are undefiled
How can I keep from singing?

There is another side of the message, and this does tie back to Latin American Catholicism and is a less happy one. Resurrection doesn’t happen without Good Friday. There is no rapture where we all float off happy to be with God. Even Jesus, the son of God, had to undergo torture and death to come into the joy of the resurrection.

But, we do know that that resurrection is coming. I wish you a most hope-filled Easter.

N.B. Today was also election day in Bolivia, so everything was closed. By law, no alcohol can be sold the day before an election and nothing is open the day itself. All cars and buses are prohibited from the roads. It is a singularly quiet day in the usually very noisy Bolivia. As for me, I took it as an opportunity to bask in the joy of the day. Peace.

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