By Michael Theisen As I write this, March Madness is literally just beginning. But as you read it, we will have just crowned a new national champion in college basketball (Did little known VCU make another amazing run? Did Kentucky and North Carolina meet in the final like I predicted?). I love March Madness because there is so much anticipation and excitement over what is and so much hope for what could be. Last second baskets to win a game, Cinderella teams that pull the startling upsets, and the pure passion of the players and the crowd make this tournament one of those mountaintop moments in sports.
Hopefully your family can recall some similar mountaintop moments as well: a memorable vacation that you still talk and laugh about, a precious new life being placed into nervous and grateful hands for the first time, the sad but hopeful goodbye as a child goes off to camp or a young adult off to school, or the cloudy and appreciative eyes of your beloved staring back at you with a tender and forgiving heart.
These sacramental moments stay with us because they reach us at a level that runs deep. They speak to an often unspeakable, or at least undefinable, grace that clings to our hearts. They remind us of what really is important in our families and in our lives. Instead of the daily tug of wars over cleaning rooms, late departures, and frantic schedules, these sacred moments remind us that in the end, we tread on holy ground.
When we find ourselves in this special zone, when we are experiencing our family as one, when the daily catch-up conversations are replaced by something deeper, and richer, and far more meaningful, and we yearn for time to stand still. We want to freeze the moment and save it just like Peter, James, and John did when they found themselves at the top of a mountain witnessing the Transfiguration of Jesus. They even offered to pitch a tent just to take in the glory for a little bit longer! Who could blame them, or us, or the team that wins the NCAA tournament for wanting to stall time and stay on top that particular mountain?
But life calls us forward to meet up with what’s next, just as Jesus gathered his disciples and headed back down the mountain, toward another hill that was awaiting him in Jerusalem. Jesus knew then, just as we do now, that not all mountaintop moments are ones that we want to relive or hold onto. For every tournament victor there must be a loser, for every family vacation there is the daily grind that must be endured. For every joyful new life there is the pain of giving birth. For every Transfiguration, there is a Crucifixion. In the end, what meaning does Easter have without Good Friday?
As your family enters this holiest of weeks, spend time recalling the transfigured Palm Sunday moments of complete joy, absolute love and vibrant faith that mark the pathways of your family’s journey. And take careful attention to remember, grieve, and hold dear the painful and dark Good Friday deaths that have beaten and whipped your family’s soul. Then the fullness of the Easter moments that lie in wait for you and your family this year will spring forth and the holy ground upon which you walk daily will be surely be revealed more fully.
Michael is a work in progress, enjoying his journey as a husband, father, author, and national youth ministry leader. He resides in Rochester, NY.