Easter is the holiest day in all Christendom. It lies at the intersection of life, death, everlasting life and everlasting death; it makes palpable the transforming power of love and the transient nature of earthly might.

Today Christians proclaim that Jesus is risen, that faith banishes death because God is life. We ponder these things in times of war because they present themselves to us with unprecedented clarity and force.

We're beginning to glimpse Saddam's charnel houses and mass graves; we're witnessing the search for that most precious of human remains: dignity. We will learn of heroism and atrocity, and discover that battles don't end with gunfire, but with the transition from battlefield conquest to fruitful peace.

Today, shattered families dig fresh graves and weep. Death and rebirth mingle in this quest, and the righteous wonder why. We all know in our hearts that God has challenged us to do right. I won't presume to know God's views of the war, but the postwar moral obligations seem obvious: to comfort, rebuild and liberate, rather than dusting off our hands, congratulating ourselves and marching on.

Each of us, even in times of war, must stretch for some twinkling mote of divinity -- a chance to prove that humanity outshines brutality, and that liberty provides the soil in which virtue can grow.

On this day of birth and renewal, our own new age begins.