My Easter Wish for You – Rolling Back the Stones (Written for an Easter Service at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Dayton, Ohio)
A stone, officially defined, is simply a piece of rock.
What characterizes it, to my mind, is its hardness.
Stones may be large or small, heavy or light, rounded or irregular in shape, but all of them are hard.
We all carry stones with us, whether we know it or not. When we hold a grudge, we carry a stone. When we allow ourselves to become bitter, we carry a stone. When we give in to the worst in ourselves, we carry a stone.
All these stones, too, are hard. They are no simple pieces of rock.
All of us experience periods in our lives that are especially hard, periods when the stones pile up, when the situation becomes so difficult that the stone is no mere pebble but a boulder.
Such was the case when my young daughter was diagnosed with cancer. Through the agonizing days of chemotherapy and radiation, through the sleepless nights when I wondered how she and my young family were ever going to survive, my heart became as heavy as a stone.
All of you know what it’s like to feel your heart heavy as a stone.
For those times, I have no advice. But I do know what happens. You sit with the heaviness. For as long as it takes. Sometimes sitting with your stone takes months, years, even decades. But if you don’t resist the sitting, you allow yourself to feel the weight of the stone, its size, its heft. You allow your stone to teach you what you need to learn. Above all, you embrace the hardness.
Eventually, and oh-so-gradually, something about the stone begins to shift, and so does something in you. The stone seems somewhat lighter; it seems somewhat smaller. It seems, somehow, less hard. You can’t explain the shift; you can only offer it your deep and abiding gratitude. You realize that from inside your darkness you have caught a glimmer of light. Your stone has begun to roll away from its tomb.
I think of these moments, these moments when our stones begin to roll away, as Easter.