On the brink of everything

AweTwice in a handful of days my attention has been hijacked by a phrase that brings me new insight into Easter and the new life that is spread all around us. Courtney Martin, in the opening line of her blog at onbeing.org, wrote, “My daughter is on the brink of everything.” She described how her sixteen-month-old daughter helps her see the wonders of life through the eyes of a toddler.

Parker Palmer picked up the line in his blog there a few days later, explaining, “because that’s where I am at age 76. I’m frequently awestruck as I stand on the brink of the rest of my life, including that part of life called death which I can sometimes see from where I stand.”

One of the few things the gospel accounts of Easter have in common is the fear that overcame the disciples before their recognition of the risen Christ. When I was a young child I sometimes feared unknown things that lurked under my bed at night and in the darkened closet, but I think the disciples’ fear was different. Theirs was a fear, I think, not of scary things but one that came with disorientation as they realized how radically different their world had become when the life of Jesus sprang from the grave.

All the rules and conventions that had governed their lives were dispelled, and an extraordinary array of untried possibilities opened before them. Their old world was still there but had been so transformed they hardly recognized it. They found themselves suddenly “on the brink of everything.”

Martin wrote about her daughter’s early walks. “She toddles towards the waist-high, wooden gate near our home and opens it. She walks a few steps out, visibly bouncing with the delight of freedom, then quickly swivels around to make sure that I’m following.” Martin continued, “I’m learning so much from watching her. About noticing. About the senses that I take for granted. I’m also learning about awe.”

“The world is charged with the grandeur of God,” poet Gerard Manly Hopkins wrote. “It will flame out, like shining from shook foil.” Like God’s grandeur flamed out in the angel descending from heaven that first Easter morning, whose “appearance was like lightning” (Matt. 28:3). Like it flames out from every bush and blade of grass, every hedge and highway, every friend and, yes, foe, to those who have eyes to see.

Because of Easter, all creation is made new (2 Cor. 5:17), and we stand on the brink of everything. I pray (and you pray with me) that the eyes of our hearts may be opened to see what grandeur opens before us, and that we may spend the rest of our days “bouncing with the delight of freedom.”

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