March 31, 2013 7:30pm, 9:30 and 11:30am
St. Margaret Parish, Bel Air
When I was in high school, I remember reading the play Our Town.
Our Town was written by the American playwright Thornton Wilder and it was required reading in our English class. The setting is a small town called Grovers Corners in New Hampshire in the 1930s.
The final act of the play is especially moving. The narrator walks through the town cemetery and tells the story of each person who is buried there.
When the narrator finishes all the stories, he walks to the front of the stage and looks directly at the audience. He pauses and then says this.
“Now there are some things we all know. We all know that something is eternal, and it ain’t the earth, and it ain’t the stars…
“Everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being.
“They’re waitin’. They’re waitin’ for something that they feel is comin’.
“Something important, and great. Aren’t they waitin’ for the eternal part in them to come out clear?”
The Eternal -- Resurrection
Well, the narrator in Our Town makes quite a point.
Deep down in our heart, something tells us that this life is not all there is. Deep down in our heart, something tells us that there is life beyond this earth.
Our Scripture readings this evening confirm this intuition of our hearts. Easter tells us that there is a resurrected life with God.
Signals of Transcendence
Some theologians say that our life experiences give us hints of this and they call these hints “signals of transcendence.”
Maybe we have never heard this expression before. In truth, it’s one of those lofty sounding expressions that has a very simple meaning.
A signal of transcendence is something in this life that puts us in touch with something beyond this life. It is something like the sound on my cell phone.
When the sound goes off and I hit answer, I can talk with the person calling me. The sound puts me in touch with the other person.
Well, a signal of transcendence is something in this life that tells us that there is a life beyond. It can be something right inside us, or something outside us that connects us with something beyond.
For example, I hope we all have some degree and even a high degree of happiness. We might have loving family and friends, a good job, and a comfortable lifestyle.
And yet, even with all of this, isn’t it true that we still hunger for more and find ourselves saying if only we had this or if only he would be like that or if only we could do whatever? Even our experience of happiness leaves us hungering for something more.
I imagine many of us have had the experience of seeing a newborn baby or of noticing the stars on a dark night or of being mesmerized by the power and rhythm of the ocean. These experiences can touch us deeply.
And don’t we sometimes find ourselves caught up in them to the point of wonder – wonder at what lies behind and beyond them? These experiences can leave us wondering.
And then there is simply this yearning within us for life. We want to live and we resist the thought that life may end with physical death.
Don’t we have to ask: where does this yearning come from? Where does our desire for life and living and for more and more of it come from?
I see these experiences as signals of transcendence.
They point to something beyond this life and tell us we are made for another world. And today Easter confirms our intuition and experience.
The risen Christ tells us that death is only a passage to another life. He tells us that there is a resurrected life with God that will finally satisfy the deepest hunger and wildest wonder and most persistent desire in our human spirit.