As I enjoy a favorite episode of history, the Easter Rising in 1916, which began the liberation of much of Ireland from the British, I can’t help but think of another Easter uprising.
About this rising, Yeat’s concludes his poetic monument of the same name:
We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead;
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
I write it out in a verse—
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.
In this fragmented age, knives and guns sometimes must be used to bring some temporary justice and good for clay people scarred by rough land and broken hearts. It was not the first time and certainly will not be the last. Even the best new king carries his enemy in his heart and is always just as close to being the villain as the hero.
But for all who have left unsatisfied even after the most righteous of wars, may they find deeper satisfaction in the original Easter uprising.
C.S. Lewis describes it well when he writes in Mere Christianity:
Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening in to the secret wireless from our friends: that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going.
We get power by force. We think we love victories on the battlefield and heroes slaying dragons. We look for that in our kings. But this king indeed slipped by our Babel admiring eyes.
We can only be caught by surprise. This Easter uprising began not by a King with a sword, but one in a manger and ending up on a cross, where he became the enemy in our backwards kingdom. But also for a moment became the enemy of God’s kingdom when “he became sin who knew no sin so we might become his righteousness.”
Surprise. What kind of love is this?
The King is here and continues to slip by our defenses through mother’s arms carrying her daughter to baptism, through poor illiterate preachers pointing to Jesus, hanging out in ICUs and nursing homes, exiled divorcees and orphaned children, unemployed fathers and dimly lit funeral homes. There and only there does he whisper through another that the King has come, the Kingdom is here and will be here forever. Until one day the greatest surprise will catch even the most believing off guard when the old age of Easter uprisings will be no more.