The Easter Season is a busy time for Catholic Parishes. The days we’ve named “Holy Week” orient the Christian to the core of our belief: Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, entered our human condition, died, and rose on the third day for the sake of our salvation.
This simple summary of Christian faith contains centuries of reflection, prayer, scholarship, and debate. The ink spilled and pixels arranged to give voice to this simple truth often plumbs the depths of human reason and our understanding of Divine Revelation. The unique relationship reminds me of one of the basic experiences we’ve all had in life – We live according to simple principles that also contain a depth of complexity.
My Holy Week and Easter Season have been a teetering between simplicity and complexity. Easter is always a complex time for priest. Sadly, a personal tragedy has added to this complexity. Mike Longsdorf, one of my closest friends, died from a rapid growing cancer that was thought to be slow growing. On a day that he and his wife were going to the hospital to talk about a treatment plan, they received the heart wrenching news that his body was shutting down. Rest in the peace of Christ my dear friend. You inspired me to be a better priest.
What do we do when our lives become complex? As I’ve shared with you in the past, astronomy is part of my “spiritual toolbox” to give me time of rest from my work. I do tend to enjoy some of the more complex aspects of astronomy and astrophotography, but I find that when my ministerial life becomes complex, I like to step away from star trackers, stacking images, and trying to make faint objects less faint and just gaze at the night sky.
As all the complexity of my life was going on, I found a new favorite place to star gaze – A nature reserve called Muddy Creek Reserve. The reason I like it so much is that there are no obstructions on the horizon in any direction and the light pollution is tolerable. I pulled out my lawn chair and simply started to pray and take pictures. As night overwhelmed day, a Short Eared Owl buzzed me, making me think that I might be invading its hunting grounds. My apologies too said Owl.
As I observed, prayed, and imaged, two pictures stood out. One was Orion’s Belt and the other was the coming together of Venus and the Pleiades. Simple moments of peace to calm the complexities of my life. A moment of calm in an emotional storm. The sweet echos of migrating birds ending their day. In short, a lesson from God that simple is the best antidote for times of stress, grief, and complexity.
Spiritual Exercise: What is the complexity you face? What are the simple, prayerful moments you need to calm those moments? How can you incorporate those moments into your life today? Pray with these questions and remember that one of the titles of God is “Pure Simplicity.” Embrace simplicity. Let go of the complexities that can rule our hearts. Find peace in the arms of God. Find peace in the arms of Simplicity.