In A Bright Particular Star, there’s a conversation that happens between Lilia MacDonald and her father as she parses the single most important crossroad in her life - whether or not to marry the man she loves or follow her unbridled passion for the theatre. It’s a beautiful scene between a father and his daughter, an intimate exchange between two people who share a passion for a Father God whose presence they crave.
GEORGE. So. What is most important?
LILIA. In the grand scheme of things?
GEORGE. To you. To Lily.
LILIA. God. Whatever's most important to him. To please him.
GEORGE. But you can't please him! ... Any more than he is already. There's nothing you can do, or undo, to add to that. Or to take it away. Do you understand?
LILIA. Yes, I think so.
GEORGE. Don't let go of that.
On this Easter Sunday, I am struck by the fact that the first person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven after Jesus’ suffering and death was a thief who hung on the cross beside him. The man asked if he could be in paradise with a dying Rabbi we don’t know he even knew, and the answer was “Today you’ll be with me in paradise.” Who knows why the thief was compelled to ask the question. Did he hang beside a personified matured innocence, and like a besotted lover who has no time, blurt out an impossible hope? Did he hope to please the grace-filled Rabbi who gave himself to suffering without uttering a word? Maybe in the silence before the question, he heard George MacDonald’s words drifting outside of time, the voice of the spirit whispering to his already suspended and ascending body, and in the miracle that is myth, maybe those words were actually there as an unspoken expression in the Rabbi’s eyes. “You can’t please me. Any more than I am already. There’s nothing you can do, or undo, to add to that. Or to take it away. Do you understand?”
“I think I do.”
“Don’t let go of that. Today you will be with me in paradise.”
Most of us won’t suffer such an ignominious end as that thief. Our lives won’t be that dramatic. But we’ll face hundreds of crossroads where our only wish is to please those who love us the most. And those who love us from a place of God-light will always say that nothing we can do will please them more than they already are. True love does not have to be earned.
Happy Easter everyone - Morris