The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed! Happy Easter!
Unfortunately, our plans to have an Easter service this morning have been set aside by our only water pump deciding to stop operating - a serious problem for us, and a crisis for the ABP. We drink and cook with bottled water, but the ABP use the well water for everything. We spent the morning pulling the pump some 60 feet out of the hole in the ground to fix it. We had to make a tripod to mount a pulley to pull the thing up - it was Army ingenuity at its best. We used one of our HUMMWVs to pull it up.
Immediately after this crisis was over and the pump was fixed, we were informed that two of our teammates were to be taken back to Waza Khwa - their time in Afghanistan was close to over, and they were to get ready to go home. Unfortunately, this was going to leave us even more short-handed than we have been since we got here, and we complained on the radio to our higher command about this. Despite our objections, within two hours a helicopter arrived, and our two teammates left on board. Now, instead of four-hour guard shifts, we will have to start six-hour shifts, and our time with the ABP will be even more curtailed.
We also had a Russian commercial helicopter fly in several “blivets” of JP8 diesel fuel, each load carrying 500 gallons (a blivet is a cylinder made of steel-reinforced rubber, which looks like a very large roundish gas tank). We spent the afternoon pumping fuel from the blivets into our holding tank.
Night came, and we were all exhausted. I was depressed, thinking of Easter back home. I had tried so hard to keep the optimism of Easter in my heart this day. I had looked forward to celebrating this special day in some special way with some of my teammates. It seemed all of it had passed - Easter had not been a special day in any way other than the crises which seem to happen every day here.
Back home, my kids were hunting for the Easter eggs they had colored the day before. My wife would have to hide them this year, but there would be Easter eggs, Easter baskets, and Easter outfits to wear to church. They would go out to eat after church. Easter for us is a festive day, a day for celebrating.
It’s been two weeks that we’ve been here, and I’ve had no contact with my family. We have a satellite phone with us, but we have limited minutes, so we have reserved the phone for emergency use only. Before he left, one of our teammates gave us some phone cards he had saved. Tonight, I would be allowed to call home for two minutes, along with our other teammates.
After dinner, I sat sadly thinking how there had been no Easter celebration for us. A voice came into my head, a voice from a dimension outside our own, a voice which uses my own words and vocabulary but does not originate from my own thoughts: “I know you remembered Me.” It was as if Jesus was speaking to my mind, a gift to me from above. It gave me joy.
Later, a few of us sat down and talked about what Easter meant to each of us, and how we celebrated it. It was our own version of our Easter service. Our OIC was one of the participants. At the end of our conversation, he went back to our hooch to retire. I said to him, “The Lord is risen!” He answered, “He is risen indeed.” I thanked him for his reply.
That night, I called my wife, and told her I was OK and that things were safe here. It was about all the time I had. She told me she had videotaped the Easter egg hunt at home for me. We wished each other Happy Easter, and traded I love you’s.
Easter for the disciples came on a day of despair. Their Master was dead, and their world had collapsed. Jesus had lived a life of obedience, and had been killed for it. But Easter is a day that Christians celebrate as a day of reward for obedient service - Jesus had risen. On a day of frustration, obedience and sacrifice, I was reminded I, too, have a hope and a reward. Ultimately, righteousness triumphs, despite the appearance of ultimate doom. When things look their darkest, there is the light of Easter.
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The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and
Executive Director of CrossCurrents.
He is the author of God and Science (John Knox Press, 1986).
A revised and expanded version of the book is appearing here. God and Science (Hypertext Edition,
He is also editor of a new book, featuring articles by world class scientists and theologians, and illustrating the leading views on the relationship between science and religion: Faith, Science and the Future (CrossCurrents Press, 2007).
Charles also tracks the boundry between the virtual and the real at his blog: Next World Design, focusing on the mediation of art, science and spirituality in the metaverse.