This week is what I am calling my tender season.

my grandfather's grave, the day we buried my grandmother last August

my grandfather’s grave, the day we buried my grandmother last August. Another tender season.

The death and resurrection of Jesus is, possibly, one of the more divisive aspects of faith. I believe Jesus died, my Muslim friends believe he did not. I believe he rose from the dead, they believe he didn’t have to because he didn’t die. We both believe he is alive now, in paradise, and that he will return one day to earth and will redeem all broken things.

And so, tenderly, (all the more tenderly as the country searches for dry ground and a solid foundation after the flood) I step into this weekend of Good Friday and Easter fully aware of the differences between me and my Djiboutian friends. But I don’t think it needs to be divisive, even as we disagree. I think we can still love and pray and clean up mud together. On Eid or Mawliid or during the Hajj I enjoy hearing from my friends what the holiday means to them. Here is what Easter means to me.

Sometimes I forget to feel things. Or I’m too busy. Or I choose not to. But now, in this tender season, I can’t seem to forget or lose myself in busyness or make the lazy choice to be callous.

There have been many dark and dying things. Cancerous things and grocery stores burning down things and human trafficking things. Broken marriage things and kidnapping things. Post-election discontent and flooding. Loneliness and rising temperatures (including Lucy’s last night of 104). Suicides and murders and arrests. My family divided. My lack of patience, cruel words, unthinking comments, pride.

These things are what Good Friday is for. These things are what Easter is for. During this tender season when emotions are bubbling over, there is no getting around the feeling of it. Easter is not a familiar, chocolate bunny holiday. It is shocking and scandalous and earth-shattering and I feel my need for Jesus.

These dark things have stripped away the façade of self-dependence. Being all five Joneses under one roof for a month is joyfully raw because it is temporary and every game and meal and prayer and tickle mania bears a subtle weight. Heavy rain brought life in the desert and death in the city. We wait for news of people we love in the hospital and in recovery, or not. And through it all, I need Jesus.

As long as I can remember I believed Easter was about Jesus dying and rising to purchase forgiveness for sin.

But as I get older and love more people and enter more suffering (and from what I hear, this is only the beginning) and read the Bible deeper and learn myself better, Easter is oh, so much more. These are some of the things I need Jesus for, some of the things I can write Easter resurrection power over:

Victory over death.

Reclaiming of hope.

Defiance of injustice.

Promise of his Presence.

Comfort in sorrow.

Honor in place of shame.

Courage in place of fear.

Confidence in place of timidity.

Certainty in place of doubt.

A solid foundation and an unshakeable kingdom.

These are part of what Easter means to me and I’m glad for the tender season of it, even though it does mean I have to make sure there are always Kleenexes in my purse.

Do you have a tender season? What brings it on?