Happy Easter! I hope your day is a blessed one, and that it commemorates what this holiday is all about. Yes, as you munch on chocolate bunnies, I hope you more importantly consider that Easter is a celebration triumphant of the rising of Christ to give us new life.
I know that for some, though, Easter is a lonely holiday. In fact, maybe for you it’s just another lonely day. Holidays sometimes emphasize how alone we are, taking away any joy to be had. If that means you, I’m praying that you’ll experience community and love and family. You were on my mind all week—this is why all the posts since last Sunday have been on the topic of loneliness. That and the fact that Easter, in a sense, is all about loneliness.
A few years ago, our Holy Week posts focused on the anime classic, Trigun, and especially on the character of Nicholas D. Wolfwood, who if not the most pious priest, is certainly one of the coolest in all anime. Again today, I contemplate on his journey and on Vash’s—both of which are paths of loneliness (spoilers ahead). The latter is that of a solitary hero, a Christ figure in that he attempts to save a world that hates and injures him and less Christ-like, but just as solitary, in that no one understands him but Knives, the only being on planet Gunsmoke that is truly the same as he. Vash is helped by friends, but must ultimately face his demons—and his brother—by himself.
Wolfwood’s journey is also singular. He must decide whether to continue the path of villainy or turn to goodness, to hunt Vash or help him, to live by his own principles or by “love and peace.” There’s no one he can turn to for help or advice, not wholly. Vash does help (or confuse!) him, but Wolfwood can’t really break it down fully with the Humanoid Typhoon, lest he reveal his affiliation. But finally, as his life ends, Wolfwood does turn to someone—he turns to God. Discussing, complaining, and even raging about his situation, Wolfwood turns to the Creator whom he has pretended to serve, and for once, finds a measure of peace, dying but perhaps in doing so, finding life.
But even in the death scene, there doesn’t seem to be an answer—at least there’s no direct response to Wolfwood. So why does he smile as it all ends? That silence must feel like a resounding no, or worse, a resounding, “There’s no one here.” When I pray, I sometimes feel a bit like that, like there’s no one home, like I’m talking in the dark to myself (which is what some of my atheist friends would tell me is exactly what’s happening). Many others, too, pray and feel like they don’t receive an answer. One of Hollywood’s great directors even recently tackled this topic through the excellent film, Silence.
Where is God when we need him? Where is God when we’re all alone? Why does he remain silent?
Sometimes, we confuse silence from God with a lack of caring. Sometimes the answer is silence itself, and sometimes the answer is something we don’t want to hear. Vash, for instance, wanted to go down a certain path, one where he would never kill another. I can imagine that if he prayed, he would have asked for that path to always be true and certain. Yet, he falls into a situation where he must make the choice to kill, and it almost destroys him. Knives has forced Vash’s hand, and once again, Vash feels all alone—even worse, he feels a hypocrite and a failure.
Would things have been different if Vash hit his knees like Wolfwood did? Maybe, but perhaps not, for the answer that Vash was looking for wouldn’t have delivered him to the place he needed to be. And ironically, it’s something that Vash didn‘t want which led him down the road of reconciliation.
For us, too, the failure and the darkness and the stumbling often lead somewhere better. They can guide us into someplace good. And if in our prayers we find that God did not deliver us the way we would want, we may find that its actually evidence of his love, of his presence, not the opposite. Look at Vash—the Savior figure in his life, Rem, loved Vash through sacrifice that tore him apart, and though he didn’t want it at the time, it was necessary. Her spirit remains with him all these years later.
God promises that he will be with us. We may legitimately feel alone and be without the community we need, but we’re never flying solo. God ensures that the Holy Spirit is with believers, but it took a road of loneliness to get there. Christ had to walk the road to Calvary, and then suffer and die alone—not just away from friends and family, but separated from his Father. We won’t suffer such silence on this side of the grave.
The triumph of today started two days before in loneliness, in crucifixion, in death. We know we’re not alone because he was, because of the lengths he went to so that we don’t have to be.
That’s Easter. Hallelujah, indeed, for we are not alone.
- Check out this article on Wolfwood and grace
- In fact, here’s the first in the entire series we did several years ago
- We’ve reviewed the classic novel, Silence, in addition the movie
- We’ve also waxed philosophical on the silence of God before
- I encourage you to check out My Last Day, an excellent anime short on the crucifixion
- Featured illustration by ゆきやなぎ (reprinted with permission)