Daffodils are emerging, blossoms are appearing on trees, and I’m due for my first bike ride of the year. It’s spring, a time of release—from the cold ground, from secret places in branches, from the dusty garage. It is also, of course, the season we celebrate Easter, when Jesus rose from the dead, the greatest release in human history.
I have been thinking recently of this poem, which I heard in a Christmas Eve homily; it speaks of release:
The small man
Builds cages for everyone
While the sage,
Who has to duck his head
When the moon is low,
Keeps dropping keys all night long
The poet was a fourteenth-century Persian mystic with the pen name Hafiz or Hafez. He is still one of the most popular poets in Iran. While the artist was Muslim, I believe his work carries a profoundly Christian message: We have the power to unlock cages of fear…anxiety…hate.
The theme of this month’s Liguorian is: Christ is risen, the instant Jesus released us from sin and death. Our human capacity for the power of release is smaller, but I believe we all can open cages with Christian love.
Our cover story by Fr. John Schmidt, CSsR, explores the practice of keeping vigils, ranging from an Irish wake to the Easter Vigil. Andrew Minto says forgiveness unlocks us and others from metaphorical jails. Kate Basi asks what kind of Christian we want to be: one locked in cages of fear or the kind who is open to God and free.
In his homily featuring the poem, Fr. Gary Braun reminded listeners that Jesus proclaimed he came to set prisoners free (Luke 4). Could we, Fr. Braun asked, release prisoners from cages we have made, that others have made, or that they have made for themselves?
Fr. Braun’s query has stuck with me. As Easter nears, I realize that answering his question will take a lifetime.