The Author

Counting the Days

Countdowns are important events in our lives. They are reminders to us that important events are right around the corner.

Ask any child of a reasonable age how long it is until her birthday and she will be able to respond not only with the number of days, but sometimes with the minutes. Ask some advertisers and they will (cynically?) tell you that there are, as of the day of this writing, 292 shopping days until Christmas.

While we are not allowed to publish the exact date, our family has been informed that our son will be returning from the Middle East before too long. It will be a good Friday for us. You can take it to the bank that we are counting down the days.

Not all countdowns are pleasant. I recently visited with a man who told me that the doctors had given his wife a few weeks to live. As hard as it may be to say, I cannot imagine that he does not believe that their lives are on the clock - one day closer every day.

As of this Sunday, Easter is 42 days away. Some Christian traditions prepare for the day by entering into a period of sacrificial waiting, seeking to embody some of the challenges that Jesus faced in those last days of his earthly pilgrimage. While this observance has never been a consistent part of my Christian practice, I understand how identifying with the struggles of Jesus’ last days could help someone count down to the joy of Easter.

What I have never been able to understand is how some folks seem not to think about Easter before the day arrives. Like those first disciples, they are surprised that the tomb is empty and everything that they had thought about life has been turned upside down.

Now that I think about it, maybe that’s the reason they don’t count down to Easter. Perhaps, even unconsciously, not to count down is to hold at arm’s length the difference that Easter makes in all creation. To do so would require the realization that in Jesus, God really is making all things new, that death has been overcome by life, that things will not and cannot be the same.

The irony of all this, of course, is that Easter comes, whether or not we count down. But, if we do, it just might begin to make the difference in our lives that all anticipation has the power to do. We’ll never know until we try. As of this Sunday, we have 42 days and counting.