The bright colors, the high heeled shoes, the ties and suit jackets, the baskets of candy filled eggs, the fancy dinners with families.
The songs that proclaim "HE IS ALIVE." The rejoicing, the happiness, the hope.
But that's not how it started, or when it started.
It started on Friday, and it was anything but bright, happy, hopeful.
It was a day filled with shock, pain, despair, fear, doubt, and death.
I've had a day like that. It was a Wednesday for my family, but it held all the same emotions as Good Friday must have held for the disciples.
"How can this be true?"
"How could this have happened?"
"How will we live through this?"
The gut wrenching sobs of my mother, my father, my sisters, my brother, my kids...the pain that had me curled into a ball in the floor...Yes, I have lived through a Friday.
And a Saturday too. The listless, numb feeling that settles over everyone. Things to do, plans to make, bleak, painful futures to face. Fear that comes when the grief seems to rob you of breath. Its too much. Its more than we can bear. Life as we knew it, life as we hoped and dreamed it would always be...is over. Gone.
Sunday starts the same way for the disciples. Get up, try to eat, try to blink with swollen eyelids and overused tear ducts. Go through the motions, keep moving because what other choice is there?
Who's going to the grave to anoint His body? What do we do now? How can we ever go back to life like it was before?
And the women who loved Jesus went through the motions that everyone who's ever lost a loved one goes through. They got dressed, and gathered what they would need, and set out to face the body of the One they loved and lost.
They wondered how they would move the stone out of the way. They'd probably been too distracted to think of it before, too busy planning the heart wrenching, unimaginable task before them...but now they wondered, discussing it in tired, quiet tones as they rounded the corner.
And then the fear set in anew.
The soldiers were prostrate on the ground.
The stone was already rolled back.
An angel sat atop it.
And the angel spoke..."He is not here..."
Today, as I was thinking about the stone, and the grave, and the sadness that leapt into rejoicing for the disciples and the women who loved Jesus...I thought about my own Good Friday, and the Saturday...and all the days in the nearly 4 years since.
And in my mind, I saw this picture.
"She is not here."
She's not there. She's alive. More alive than she ever was.
And Easter looks even more hopeful, and bright, and happy, than it ever has before.
Because Jesus got up out of His grave...and so my sister's grave isn't the end of her life.
It is the beginning.
The Lamb of God rolled away the stone in front of EVERY GRAVE.
We all have Good Friday's, and Saturday's, and we all know the shock and pain and gut wrenching grief.
BUT...Sunday came, the first Easter dawned...and now we can hold onto the Sunday promise, even on Friday. We can bury our loved ones, and we can look at their gravestone, and we can see the angel sitting atop, and hear the words "...NOT HERE..."
My sister is in heaven, celebrating Easter with her Savior. And I am on earth, celebrating Easter with my Savior...and it almost feels like we're together, and the knowledge that we will be together again gives me such JOY that I can't stop crying, and I can't stop smiling, and I can't stop jumping, and I can't stop raising my hands toward heaven...
Because "HE IS NOT HERE!!! He has risen!'
There's nobody left in that grave.