And then he spoke, just one word, but it was enough. In hearing that one word - her name - the mist lifted and the joyous sun of recognition shone through.
Several times I have met a friend in an unexpected place. The encounter always follows a similar pattern: the intial sighting ("can it be...?"); then the disbelief ("no, can't be, what would she be doing here...?"); maybe a double take or two, an attempt to catch their eye, and then, finally, the moment of certainty - "yes, it IS...!" Our initial words invariably express our disbelief ("what are YOU doing here?") alongside our joy ("but what a lovely surprise...!")
We celebrate many things at Easter, and one of them is a God who delights in surprising us; a God who bursts in on our lives with a huge smile, saying the divine equivalent of "boo!" A God who springs up in new and unexpected places, and calls us to go beyond the known and predictable. A God whose appearance can be swift and sudden, or gradual, as daybreak; a God we might recognise in an instant, or maybe only after double takes... or even later, upon reflection, and with memories of hearts burning within us. We're as likely to meet this God through the opening of the scriptures as we are through something as mundane as a fish meal, lovingly prepared. And this encounter could radically transform our lives, or simply enable us to understand something anew. One never knows, because, truly, this is a God who delights in keeping us on our toes!
Happy Easter everyone... and wishing you all the joy of Jesus's presence in new and unexpected places.