Divine surprise

Washington National Cathedral, April 2005

Washington National Cathedral, April 2005

“The story of Easter is the story of God’s wonderful window of divine surprise.”
— Carl Knudsen

It’s possible to hope with complete assurance for something, and still be delightfully surprised when you get more than you asked for. That’s how Christmas morning often felt to me in childhood– the anticipation, though great, never quite captured the magic of what we saw when we rushed downstairs before dawn. It’s also how I felt when our sons were born. No matter how much I imagined we would love them, it didn’t come close to the joy of actually holding them and seeing them face to face.

Thus it is that we can live a life of deep faith and steadfast trust, and still we cannot begin to imagine what lies ahead. As promised in I Corinthians 2:9, we wait in confident expectation for things we are now unable to fathom: for the miracle of divine surprise.

This post was first published on Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday, 2013. I read it again now, seven years and too many heartbreaks later, scarcely daring to hope for good news as the morbidity and mortality numbers continue to climb all over the world. Yet stubbornly, I still do hope– for what, I’m not exactly sure anymore. But that’s the whole point of surprise, isn’t it? Believing in the reality of what we wait and hope for, though it is beyond our ability to imagine. 


  1. mike c.

    I am listening to the Good Friday service from St. Peter’s Bassilica. Hope to go there one day.
    Father Castellmonte in his message refers to the Corona virus epidemic and lifts up the hope that “in this time when the world has a heightened sense of unity-fighting a common enemy. Unseen and sinister , that the younger generation may find a way to lessen the arms race and now concentrate on world issues: health, hygiene and stewardship of the worlds limited resources.”
    I am again on call this weekend and hope it not too busy. Yesterday the girls did a drive by. Had not seen them in three weeks. They are doing their part as far as social distancing.
    Norah sent me a U tube video of her reading a story, ” HOme for Bunnny.” They have “Mystery Reader” at their school library. Avery Elementary. Something I have thought of doing, but have not.
    Zizer pescha.

    • Mike, I looked up your words “Zizer pescha” but remarkably, could not find anything at all online about it. Can you translate? I’m glad you got to see the girls, even if it was only a drive by. I last saw my grandsons in mid-November 2019. I have no idea whether I will ever see them again in this life.

  2. Julia, you’re right about surprise. At this point, I had pretty much given up on “Easter” this year, because it couldn’t be like I wanted it to be. I didn’t even play Widor’s toccata, which is an annual tradition for me; if I don’t hear it at church, I at least play it from a CD or YouTube.
    But God’s surprised can’t be expected to be a repeat of last year’s blessings!

    • So true. Many years ago I told Jeff that I thought the life skill most necessary to aging was adaptability. Yet I still underestimated how much of that I would be needing. As my friend Ashleigh said many years ago, “Constant change is here to stay.”

  3. mike c.

    it is happy passover. Sad about the grands. You ever Skype with them? Soon they will have phones and be calling you for money.
    pescha is passover. I may have spelled Zizer wrong.
    It it is any consolation-probably not- when Norah comes over she immediatly wants to go next door and see the older neighbor girl. Soon she will be much too busy- for us.
    My other son in NYC is having a hard time. Can’ l leave their apartment and getting all food delivered to them.

    • Mike, I’ve tried getting them to keep in touch via Skype, Marco Polo, text photos, etc. Usually we will get one or maybe two messages from them before our replies start going unanswered, so I’ve given that up too. Yes, the older they get, the less interest they tend to have in “old people” (meaning anyone more than 5 or 6 years older than they). So my pessimism isn’t unwarranted. That’s just the way of the world, it seems. I hope your son’s family in NYC is getting along OK. I love that city but I surely would not want to be there right now.

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