That We Would Know for the First Time
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
These lines from T.S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets” describe something important about this Holy Week journey in which we once again find ourselves.
This is a journey we make every year. It is a journey that people of faith have been making for thousands of years: walking these final steps with Jesus toward the cross; remembering and reenacting the final week of his earthly life
These steps are not unfamiliar. Indeed, they're well-worn. And this familiarity, while perhaps offering comfort, also presents some problems.
There is first of all the temptation to not make the journey again. We’ve sung Christ the Lord is Risen Today!, we’ve heard about the tomb found empty. We’ve been down this road before, with the Easter eggs and the pastels and the big Easter dinner. But the children are all grown and this is their year with the other grandparents.
Or the temptation to make the journey once again, but to do so as we would our morning commute or a trip to see family: knowing exactly where we are going, how long it will take to get there, who we will meet along the way, and how much—or little—it will cost us. Knowing where to find the cheapest gas may serve us well on some road trips, but not on a Holy Week pilgrimage.
And there is yet the temptation to journey once again with our bodies, but leaving our spirits out of it. Resurrection is, after all, an offense to our modern sensibilities. It can so easily be written off as the stuff of fairy tales and children’s stories. Serious people need not bother.
Each of these temptations points to the danger in thinking there is nothing new under the sun. Nothing more to be revealed about the events of that final week, but even further, nothing more to be revealed to us about the mystery—the scandal—of resurrection. Which is to say, nothing more to be revealed about life and our living it.
Against these temptations come Eliot’s invitation that we not cease from “exploring” this scandalous, holy story in which we find ourselves, but continue to trust that the more we commit ourselves to the journey, the more will be revealed to us. So that when we gather once again in the familiar space our sanctuary on Easter morning, we will truly “arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
That we will find all things have, indeed, become new.