Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

(Photo courtesy Dallas Arts Review)

I've been doing something this morning that is very atypical for me. It's Labor Day, not Easter, and I have been thinking about the Resurrection. For me, that is kind of like leaving my Christmas lights on the house until July. I basically don't think about the Resurrection much, although I would be the first to tell you we are "constantly resurrected people." But the truth is, my mind does not bend well in the theological sense of any of those words like "Transformation," "Transfiguration," "Resurrection," and "Ascension." Sure, I know their theological definitions, but I'll be the first to tell you that my brain can only deal with them when I see the effect of these words on the lives of others, or in my own life. True scientist that I am, I can only fully understand what I can put under direct observation.

Yet, that expanding mystic in me is becoming more and more okay with believing IN the Resurrection, even if I do not understand the wheres, hows, and whys of the theological details of it. Sometimes you smell it in the air, like popcorn at a movie theater. Sometimes you witness its effect in the answering of someone's prayer, or your own. Sometimes you only see a faint light at the end of a long dark passageway, but know that as you continue forward, the dark will fade and the light will emerge. But it does not change the fact that resurrection cannot be trapped like a lightning bug in a jar, studied for a while, then let loose to fly where it will.

But there is no doubt...for resurrection to occur, there has to be a trial, a crucifixion, a death, and a burial. You can't resurrect what ain't dead. You can revive it, but you can't resurrect it.

For some reason today, I thought a lot about the things in my life that fall under the category of Life's Big Uncertainties. It must be the synchronicity of the liturgical season again--we are now in the doldrums of the "long green season" of Ordinary Time/Time after Pentecost--with Advent still a good 2 1/2 plus months away--and it seems so many of my blogfriends are wrestling with one or more of Life's Big Uncertainties. Fran is answering all the hard questions of her life, Renz is trying to make sense of his recent onset of middle-aged medical maladies, Elizabeth is watching the gears start to shift in the progression of her brother's dementia, and Ruth continues to exist daily on financial manna, instead of the security of a regular paycheck. Mimi asks, "How did I end up here?", Jonathan continues to wonder if a parish will ever take him as their own, and Lisa seems...well...kinda quiet, which is not typical for a person who has a lot of passion about social issues.

I know I've left some of my blogfriends out, and I apologize if you didn't make the short list. (This is why I hate making lists--I always leave someone out, and feel crappy when I do.)

But with the concept of "thinking about rebirth" almost a season away, it creates a lot of room for us all to become enmeshed in our various funks. Mine, I guess, is just that I moved here nine years ago, with the idea that the move would make my life more "stable" (and believe me, in many ways it has) but with that stability, also came a running string of one after the other of Life's Big Uncertainties. The things you thought you knew, you didn't. The things you thought "would always be there" are not. The things you came with are not the things you leave with. People die, remarry, suddenly end up with custody of their grandkids, get dementia, move away, get divorced, or simply shuffle their decks and start to play different cards in the hands that make up the poker game of their lives. It's not even that they are all "bad" changes. They're just changes.

Figuring out where I fit in this grand shuffle is not always easy. I have a tendency to make sure everyone else at the table has enough to eat before I feed myself. Some of that is for healthy reasons, some of that is for unhealthy reasons. The healthy reason is because I really do have a desire "to treat everyone like Christ" in true Benedictine fashion. The unhealthy reason is because I was taught, a long time ago, to take care of other people's unhealthy, dysfunctional needs, so learning the borders of what "normal" vs. "dysfunctional" is, hasn't been one of my "Life's better lessons."

So, what tends to happen is, instead of being dormant and "revived", I end up having to go through trials, be crucified, die to it, and bury it in the hopes of a resurrection--not trusting in a "sure thing." Some of these things have, honestly, so far, remained dead. Sometimes, I have to wake up with the acrid taste of blood in my mouth, or smell the putrefaction of unburied dead things in my nostrils before I even recognize it's being crucified or has already died.

But here's what I have discovered: When I think about all the times in my life I have weathered Very Big Uncertainties, no matter what they are--life, work, love, family, church, friends, avocations--if a resurrection has occurred, it is almost always a surprise, and when it's least expected. You also will never recognize the resurrection if you are not visiting the tomb. The first emotion when people see resurrection is often not joy, but fear. It might take a while to realize it's a resurrection vs. a theft. We know what we have when something's dead. But do we know what we have when it is suddenly "gone?" Usually not.

It takes the recognition of that "resurrected thing" in its transformed state, to see it for what it is. It takes the prior tears of grief for its death. it takes the pain of its crucifixion, and it takes the time necessary for the trial to play out. In real life, the resurrections of these things seldom take three days. They might take weeks, months, years. Yet we time and time again short circuit the processes of our secret hearts by putting time clocks on our lives, and expectations of performance.

I watch the lives of my blogfriends play out on my computer. I watch my own life play out day by day, moment by moment. I so often want to hit either the "rewind" or the "fast forward" button on the DVD player of my life and theirs. But we simply don't have the access code to make our remotes work. Only God has the code. The buttons are merely placebos. We can only trust, pray, and hope. Yet we see empty linens and shrouded used facecloths everywhere. Miraculous.


I am silenced by this post and only comment so that you know I was here.

with love, Fran

I'm with Fran.
This is a gift, Maria; thank you.

I love it when you write from your "emerging mystic". Great stuff, m'dear.

we've had our conversations about "time" and IMHO what a human concept it is...conventionally the idea of resurrection would appear to require a before and an after in order to fit into our man-made concept of time, yet for me resurrection is a paradox - what is dead is also alive - the defeat of death isn't that he pops back up like an evil villain in a B horror movie but that he transcends death...that we all will transcend death.

are we the light or are we the vehicle for the light? Jesus showed us that we are the light...

someone posted somewhere recently about the difficulty (impossibility?) of getting young folks to understand that "this too shall pass." or something to that effect. Was it you, M?

My reaction was that if we were able to simply tell them that lesson and scoot them along to the "resurrection" part (as I think you might put it)then they really wouldn't have learned the coping lesson after all...perhaps another variation on the give a man a fish vs. teach a man to fish concept, eh?

I'm not sure if we were the ones who had the "this too shall pass" conversation or not, but we have certainly discussed how time has way different characteristics when you are younger.

But you are absolutely right, I believe in that the "learning to cope" is as much a part of "resurrection" as is resurrection itself. How can you know "hot" unless you at least know what is relatively cooler, even if you don't know "freezing?" Our universe, by nature, is relational.

Human nature, I believe, likes to deal in "opposites", and in the process, simply forgets "relative." "The right choice" is far easier when the alternative is something bad. But when we are trying to make "right choices" in the face of relative gradations of right or wrong, it is far trickier.



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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