On Good Friday I received an email informing that my military retirement application had finally been accepted.
I submitted it in October.
Since then it was rejected twice, but third time's the charm, right? In any event, while I've been savoring my newfound freedom from grooming regulations (and I have the beard and long hair to prove it!), I've not yet been able to fully utilize all the extra time. This was because there's simply not that much to do during the winter months - particularly when they were so erratic in terms of weather. I have a pair of cross-country skis, but the snow would dump and then melt, or we'd get ice rather than snow.
But now spring has sprung, and my yard beckons. Yesterday I spent several hours toiling away in my latest attempt at a vegetable garden. I got a lot accomplished, but there is still much to do before I can begin planting. I have had gardens before with varying success at this house, but this will be my most serious effort to day. For example, I did actual research on what to grow and developed a plan for the garden, its fencing and other countermeasures to protect my plants.
This is in stark contrast with my usual approach of reading the seed packet and hoping for the best.
So this year will be similar to other years, but also different. Some years ago I heard a homily the centered on that idea. As we get older, we've experienced the holidays (indeed the entire liturgical calendar) many times over. We've done Christmas. We've done Easter. They are arguably the same event, year after year.
But we are not the same, and that's part of the mystery that surrounds them. Easter as a child is different than Easter as a teenager, or an adult, or a parent, or a grandparent. Just as every growing year is different, so is each year of our life. The events of last Easter shape my perception of this Easter, adding a richness and depth to it. I'm sure next Easter will likewise have a much different about it.
That's why it is so important that we take time to savor these moments and reflect on them. One of my recurring themes on this site (and in my commentary elsewhere) is that we can only write about what we know. If we shut ourselves off from God, from life, we stagnate and experience a form of early death. We become incapable of telling stories because all we know are stories filtered to us through others. All that remains are tropes and checking off political boxes. It's basically painting by number.
It is no accident that writers like J.R.R. Tolkien and G.K. Chesterton emphasize the dull uniformity of evil. Evelyn Waugh also disparaged unthinking uniformity as a sign of moral sickness.
Some might find it fully that a bunch of Catholics would highlight individuality given the confines of the Church's worship practices, but they understood that withing those bounds, there is an intense amount of variety. Again, the Eucharist is offered at every Mass, but we are not the same. It's not the outward form, but the inner transformation that matters.