By Errol Chang
When ice melts and green shoots spring from the ground, a very visible sign of change in season and new life can prompt us to reflect on the changes in our lives. Spring therefore, lends itself nicely to indicate the change from Lenten to Easter season in our liturgical calendar, where the resurrection is the pivot of this change. However, living in Singapore where there is no autumn and winter, spring is non-existent. Can this mean that there is no change in our lives and there is no resurrection?
Like any other believers, we had journeyed through Lent by praying, almsgiving and fasting. As teachers, we might have additionally prayed for our students, been charitable to our students and fasted from angry words during our Lenten journey. At the end of the Lenten season, is there a resurrection for us teachers?
Empty tomb – A sign of resurrection
The Easter Sunday Gospel reveals to us an empty tomb rather than a greeting from Jesus or revelation from the angels. The emptiness speaks volume and can throw us into disbelief – in either the positive or the negative sense of the word.
If by faith, the empty tomb prompts us to greater belief and conviction, what’s next? With resurrection, dawns a new beginning and new world of opportunities. With the resurrection, we have somehow landed ourselves a golden opportunity for personal growth and burst of energy to do good things. So what do we do? Let’s look at the Gospel account to see if we can emulate Jesus in terms what he did after resurrection.
Folded cloths – Stay healthy
The Gospel informs us that the disciples saw that the cloth which covered Jesus’ head was rolled up. If the body was stolen as some would claim, a thief would not take time to fold this piece of cloth. I have wondered why Jesus would have done that upon his resurrection. Is it because the blessed Virgin had trained him so well as a child that he instinctively tidies up his bed upon waking from sleep or in this case, from death?
At the same time, I wonder if it is just a simple exercise to get his newly resurrected body going, like how we would warm up before doing heavier exercises, especially after three days of lying dead stiff. Maybe with this, comes our first learning point applicable to a teacher. As we begin each day before dawn, do we take time to check on our physical condition before we go about our day? To be of service to others, it is important for us to be at tip top physical condition in order that we can be the best condition when we teach our students. I invite all of us this Easter, to start having a healthy regime of sleeping on time and staying healthy with sufficient exercise so that our physical body can support our mission of teaching.
Unfolded linen – Reflect on priorities
Other than the cloth which covered his head, there was another set of linen which was lying on the ground. Jesus, why did you fold your head covering but not the other linen? Is it because of priorities? Given that Jesus was crowned with thorns, his head coverings would have been heavily soaked with his blood and this makes this piece of cloth very important under Jewish tradition.
Here could be our second learning point as a teacher, check on our priorities. As a teacher who has to plan lessons, put together learning resources, carry out administrative duties, look to the needs of the children entrusted to our care, run core-curriculum activities and many more, we must learn to prioritise. If we decide to fold everything, we might end up just going through the motion and doing tasks after tasks, thereby losing our vision of why we teach in the first place. Yes, everything we do is important for our children, but are there some things which we need to pay greater attention to first in order to benefit our students more? The invitation is there for us to reflect on the priorities of our many tasks as a teacher, given the limited hours we have in a day. If we can prioritise, maybe our tasks will become more meaningful and our work more purpose-filled, rather than just routine running through the day from task to task.
Moved stone – A whole new world
Now that Jesus has resurrected from the dead, warmed up his body by folding his head covering and prioritised but not folding everything at once, what next? He surely did not stay in the tomb and sulk in despair over being rejected by nearly everyone as the Messiah. Instead, he is ready to go at it… again!
Here’s our third invitation this Easter as a teacher. After some self-care in the first learning point and self-reflection of priorities in the second, it is time to move the stone and go out into the world to be of service to others. Armed with the first two, the third hopefully, is not just about going out to earn our keep by running from task to task. In the spirit of Easter, it is to go out into the world with the belief and zeal of the resurrection. It is in this spirit and eyes of faith that the ordinary can transform into the extraordinary, that sadness can turn to joy and that death can give birth to new life. Would our colleagues and students who meet us feel more empowered, enlivened or resurrected after meeting us?
No spring? It’s alright, resurrection springs forth!
So coming from a place where there is no spring and no change in the weather, is there a change from Lent to Easter? Is there a resurrection for us teachers in Singapore? The possibility is definitely there and the answer depends on each of our responses. So for this Easter, I wish you a Happy Selective Cloth Folding and Stone Moving Easter! May these Easter invitations help us become better teachers.