For many years, I have shared a phrase with a dear person in my life. Perhaps we’ve been saying it back and forth to one another for an entire decade.
“The mystery of goodness,” we say.
We use this phrase in a variety of ways.
“I didn’t expect that at all. It was the mystery of goodness.”
“See, you’re worth it! The mystery of goodness.”
“Just try it. You’ll be surprised. It will show up. The mystery of goodness.”
Each time, our phrase has addressed the ways that life often hands us unexpected gifts of connection, meaning, and purpose.
Our phrase has not always been spoken in moments of joy and surprise, however. More often, we’ve spoken this phrase to one another when life experiences have been painful and hard – sometimes overwhelmingly so. Our phrase has never been a pithy saying between us. Instead, we allow it to speak to realities that are deep, grief-filled, and challenging. That’s because our phrase is not ultimately a phrase. It is a way of viewing the world.
We have dared to speak, and we have dared to believe – sometimes when it felt nearly impossible to do so – that despite the losses and injustices of the world, and despite the losses and injustices in our own lives, goodness comes. And in the end, it will prevail.
Love and life have the last word.
Goodness has the last word.
Connection, meaning, and purpose have the last word.
Despite the pain we feel and the pain we know,
Life turns on the mystery of goodness, and
We are loved into life.
Let me be clear here. This is not pithy. We are talking about something challenging. This way of viewing the world is the hard-wrought work of having hope when nearly all feels lost. At times, we all need to invite others to hold out this kind of hope for us because we cannot begin to believe it for ourselves. And for very good reason: In our lives and in the lives of our communities, we have experienced death, trauma, abuse, depression, war, racism, addiction, unemployment, divorce, poverty, and other forms of loss and injustice.
This is hard work. It is challenging at times to believe in the mystery of goodness. But we are all invited to hope even just a little more. We are invited to lean into that hope so much, in fact, that we help bring goodness into the world and into the lives of one another.
On this Easter morning, I find myself reflecting upon the mystery of goodness. While we can hope for love and life to prevail, we rarely anticipate what they will look like in the face of hatred and death. They always surprises us.
Yet the surprise comes. No one expected Jesus – tortured, ridiculed, and executed – to walk out of the grave with life in his lungs and in his steps, but that is the great Mystery of Goodness on Easter morning.
Can we allow ourselves to hope for one another?
Can we turn that hope toward others who cannot possibly see the light at the end of the tunnel for themselves and those they love?
This is not pithy.
It is a way of viewing the world, and
It is hard work.
To the friends who have lost multiple family members in one year,
To the friends who are in the throws of depression,
To the friends who are homeless and regularly skipping meals,
To the friends who are divorcing,
To the friends who are incarcerated,
To the friends facing terminal illnesses,
We do not diminish your pain.
We enter it, and with love,
We hope for you.
We hope the unexpected gifts of Easter.
We hope the Mystery of Goodness.