Fragments of Resurrection

ducks at easterOn Good Friday, the kids played with their best friends all day, and then Dane was Done with Life, in the way you just are after too much goodness, too much running, too much Easter-egg-dying, cupcake-eating fun.

Ten minutes before we were supposed to be to church for Good Friday service, he was lying on the garage floor, kicking and sobbing in the dirt.

So Andrew went, and I stayed home. I made peanut butter sandwiches and washed blueberries. We sat together at the kitchen counter, his hair smelling of dirt and sweat and air.

And it was Good Friday, and it was just like any other Friday night.

It’s an apt ending to this year’s Lenten season, which was, for me, understated. Ash Wednesday came and went, and I didn’t make it to church. I downloaded two Lenten Devotions and didn’t read either one of them at all.

Some of the bloggers in my community drank only water this Lenten season, and they committed the extra money to Blood:Water Mission. It was a beautiful, perfect expression. I loved the metaphor and the reality of it all mixed up together. But I didn’t do it with them. I didn’t even try.

I lost the baby, and I felt it more than I thought I would. I promptly went to Trader Joe’s and bought a big case of wine.  For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been drinking two glasses in the evenings. Sometimes three. I pour another one and think to myself wryly, Silver linings. And then I wait for that subtle lifting. I wait for the edges to blur and life to feel a little easier.

After Good Friday service, Andrew came home, and the kids were in bed, and the house buzzed with silence. We drank red wine and ate a loaf of parmesan bread in a house still littered with the day’s debris – Legos, plastic toys, dishes. I confessed that when I’d read Jesus’ words that morning from the book of John, I couldn’t hear his voice.

After all these years of talking evangelical, sometimes the Bible just sounds like The Bible – distant and choppy, written for another time, written to someone else. I can see Jesus, bent over his disciples’ feet, washing, but the whole thing is muted and far away, a fuzzy black-and-white video with no sound.

*

This year as part of Holy Week, Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 inmates, including two women.  I don’t keep up much on the Pope, but I read this article teary eyed and moved. And I can’t stop thinking about this thing he said: “It is not in soul-searching or constant introspection that we encounter the Lord.”

I’ve been thinking about how easily I have gotten stone-sunk into myself. About how I’ve moved through my daily life this last month a little distant, a little turned in, a little unseeing.

And I think it has something to do with the fact that in the ultrasound, there was an empty hole where there should have been life. And I’ve curled myself around it, protective of this phantom pain.

We go to our Mommy class, and I gravitate toward the Mama Friend who knows me back and forth instead of to the women I don’t know.

I can see in their eyes their own Tired. Their own Too Much. But I’ve never sat down at the sensory table next to one of them. I haven’t asked them that simple, powerful question: “How are you doing?”

I haven’t meant it.

dew on grass

On Easter morning the sun rises distant and cold, and the wind is howling, and it doesn’t feel a bit like Resurrection.

But then, if we’re honest, it seldom does.

At Church I am tired, trying to keep awake after up-til-1am-making-deviled eggs. They’ve given us white rags, and I hold onto mine, feeling the terrycloth rough against my fingers. The rags are meant to symbolize surrender and the servant call of Christ. They’re about the upside-down kingdom in which God is knelt down, washing feet.

And I’m thinking about my year of Ask. About how I’ve gotten so much better at receiving. I’m learning to see clearly when I need help and to ask for it. I’m even learning to ask God for things, practicing these tentative, daily prayers of faith.

But there is another side to this word, and it has to do with seeing and it has to do with hearing. It has to do with looking outside of my own heart and toward others.

And I still don’t know how to get the balance right. Because I am tired and I am a little bit undone. Because sometimes the pain of the world seems like entirely too much, and I just want to go home. I just want to pour another glass of wine. I just want to float away.

But Easter Sunday means that, in the end, Love is bigger. It means that even when I don’t feel like I have a single thing to give, Love is enough. That if I reach forward, however imperfectly, to wash someone’s feet, I will somehow encounter Jesus.

It’s cold when we get home to finish the Easter dinner – a mad rush of cheesy potatoes and table setting. Outside there’s still snow on the ground, but also there’s that thing in the air that says spring is coming.

A few ducks have come back, and they’re picking their way along the ice, swimming in the shallow water. And they are saving my life all over again.

And really, Resurrection is everywhere. Ducks. Sunlight. A table full of food and laughter. Easter eggs broken in half, filled with treasure.

It’s a hundred thousand broken rays of sunlight. They’re shining straight through.

 

(The first Monday of the month is usually when I do a Book Reflection and Giveaway. But I felt like I needed to write this today. Stop by tomorrow to learn about a great new book, Life After Art!)

45 thoughts on “Fragments of Resurrection

  1. Oh Addie,
    I got every word of this. Every.single.one. Thank you for your vulnerability and complete transparency. These words your craft? They become a lens and they help me to see my own life more clearly, more profoundly, more honestly.
    Grateful for your gift and for the way that resurrection is breaking through your pain, whether you feel it or not.
    Grace and peace on your head today, friend.

  2. I so know that empty spot on the ultrasound, and the emptiness that comes afterward. But thank God there is there is an empty tomb that promises that all emptiness will someday be filled! Have you read Heaven is For Real? I took such solace in the fact that he met his sister, lost to miscarriage, while he was there! 🙂

    1. Filled emptiness. Yes. (And no, I haven’t read it, but I’m curious. Will have to check it out. :))

  3. i have failed, too.
    failed to see the resurrection in all its brazen joy, even amidst foil wrappers and squished jelly beans. failed to see it as it ought to be seen.
    but i read your words and something rises in me that i can’t help wondering. maybe its always out of our greatest failures that the miracle of the Greatest Mercy can be shown? isn’t that what the cross was? a human failure? and yet the resurrection wouldn’t have been such wild news without it.
    i think you said this well here: “But Easter Sunday means that, in the end, Love is bigger. It means that even when I don’t feel like I have a single thing to give, Love is enough. ”
    Love, He wins, not because of us, but in spite of us.
    now there’s a hope that continues to rise, even after the bonnets and the egg dye are put away for another year. i appreciate you sharing your personal journey here. i relate to it deeply.

    1. Love this Kelli: “maybe its always out of our greatest failures that the miracle of the Greatest Mercy can be shown?” Yes.

  4. Your words here are balm. I needed this after fuzzy expectations of Easter and not knowing what it means anymore without the ritual of church in the center of it all. But you’re right; the resurrection is everywhere, if I can just look outside myself long enough to glimpse it reflected in all things. (Pope Francis’ words keep ringing in my ears, too.)

  5. I’m right there with you this year. I find comfort in this honest mixture of grief and hope, this reminder that even in a season of darkness, there are always flashes of resurrection to be seen.

    1. “flashes of resurrection” — yes. I think I like that even better than “fragments.”

  6. Oh, Addie. This is so true. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like resurrection. (Lent seemed to pass me by this year, too.) But yes, the joy is there, however it seems hidden behind the grief. Love to you.

  7. This is so great, Addie.

    You know, I think if I had to come up with a word for 2013 it would somehow encompass this idea. The idea that the places I find God, which is also the place I usually forget to look, is right smack-dab in the middle of my mundane day. And how the glimpse I get of him doesn’t erase the mundane-ness of what is around it because I’m still exhausted and impatient and the dishes are still cluttering and grossifying up the kitchen, but that glimpse, somehow in someway, redeemed a tiny part of me. It was a tiny breath of spring in the wintertime.

    I can’t simmer the idea down into one word, though, as the run-on sentence above clearly demonstrates. And yes, this would make me FOUR months late to the Pick-A-Year-Word game. So I’m late and I have no actual word. But I have though about it. So there’s that.

    “It’s a hundred thousand broken rays of sunlight.” – perfect

    and the quote from Pope Frances is going up on my wall.

    1. My run-on sentence was very similar to yours, Janice. And I picked “LOOK!” as my one-word, but I can only begin to grasp the depth of meaning behind what that really means and how I am to respond to it this year.

      1. Yes, “LOOK!” does get at the idea, doesn’t it? That’s a great word. And I’m glad other people have the same run-ons.

        1. There is the “LOOK! OMG! A GIANT SWALLOWTAIL JUST LANDED ON MY FINGER! GET THE CAMERA!” sense to the word. But also, the “LOOK! … Jim … Make eye contact!” — and when I do look and a stranger looks back … deeply … and I am privileged to see her stress, her frustration in an instant … all I need to do is sigh and inquire softly, “Had a rough day?” … and then listen as the flood gates open and the healing … His healing … begins … right smack-dab in the middle of the day in the middle of the grocery aisle.

          1. You guys are awesome. LOOK is a great word! Especially in ALL CAPS like that. 😉

  8. Sometimes every ball we roll seems to end up in the gutter, none of the pins get knocked down. And the dang ball keeps getting sent back to us to roll again. So what do we do? We roll it again. And almost always we eventually roll one that stays in the lane and a few pins go down. It gives hope.

  9. My 5 week miscarriage began yesterday as soon as we walked in the door after singing our hosannahs at church. Death, thy sting is here, deep within me.

    Thank you for reminding me that this bitter ugliness that dares to rear its head on even the most triumphant of days is not what I was meant for. That my feeling sheepish to care so much about such a small life, a new life, early possibilities…that is resurrection breaking into darkness.

  10. I wrote a comment this morning as soon as this went up. Two days of almost no sleep & a killer headache deluded me into thinking I hit post. Ah well. So I just re-read it. Still hauntingly honest & beautiful. This season had been a struggle for me too, but I felt like I was making progress. Yet Easter found me not at worship, but 12 hours away, mothering a daughter who just was in a car accident that took her boyfriend/best friends life. The loss &pain & joy & grace are making my head spin in a surreal way.
    Your words help remind me we are all connected in our suffering, and there is sunlight breaking thru. Thank you.

    1. Judy, your words just made another connection. I missed Holy Week and Easter entirely because our daughter spent it all in the hospital with a life-threatening situation. I am not seeing the sunlight, but sometimes I think the connection with another sufferer is enough. And maybe this is the part of Jesus that is most vibrant for me: his choice to connect with us through his own suffering.Thank you for sharing your story.

      1. I’m so sorry to hear this John. I hope you’re daughter is doing better and that you’re all finding some peace.

      2. “his choice to connect with us through his own suffering”
        Amen. I have been clinging to Romans 8:26-27 like it was a life-raft. All we can do is groan, and know he hears, and be very grateful for others who hear and understand and do not throw flippant platitudes our way. Peace to you and yours.

    2. Judy, I’m so sorry to hear about this. What a hard weekend for you and for your daughter. So glad that you were able to go be with her when she needed you the most. Prayers for peace in the midst of all the terrible.

    1. It’s hard — especially, I think, for an introvert, when self-care requires so much time alone. How do you serve in a genuine, selfless way while still honoring the way God made you? Still trying to figure all that out.

  11. This made my heart ache. Thank you for the honesty and deep feeling and the words that unearth my own stinging places. Beautifully written. The end is magic.

  12. So good, Addie, as usual. Easter was a huge letdown for me, this year. I really don’t know how to even explain it. Sometimes I wish I could drink. I just can’t bring myself to. I fought porn and Jesus won that for me, and I can’t cross the line to alcohol again without convincing myself that I’m giving up completely. I’m desperately trying to find the abundant life and striking out like a blindfolded Barry Bonds.

    1. I’m thankful for the way you’ve recognized and honored your own limitations. I know it can be hard, especially when you’re feeling down. You inspire me.

  13. Introspection is important (to me at least), but I agree that when we start focusing on others–that’s when we begin to figure out what the Kingdom of Heaven is really like.

    1. Agreed. As a writer and an introvert, I tend to lean heavily toward introspection though. I love how you said it “when we start focusing on others–that’s when we begin to figure out what the Kingdom of Heaven is really like.”

  14. I can get bogged down in introspection. And often the ‘activities’ of a season get left by the wayside as I struggle to balance real life with the church calendar. It’s not that I think the latter is disconnected from reality, but I always feel like if I’m going to do it, I need to do it completely, intensely… it needs to be a profound experience. I forget that Jesus knows my life and will meet me where I am, ragged and disheveled.

    1. I love this: “I forget that Jesus knows my life and will meet me where I am, ragged and disheveled.” May the perfectionist in both of us learn to believe this! Thank you.

  15. The trouble with this life of faith? We have to live it in the middle of life, real life, painful, wondrous, mundane life. So sorry for the way Lent unfolded in such a tangible way for you this year, so very sorry. But I wait expectantly, because I know that even this terrible loss will not be wasted in your life. That truth does not in any way lessen the reality of the loss, but sometimes, seeing how this resurrection/redemption stuff shows up right smack dab in the middle of the holes, in the places where there is no life – well, it keeps us putting one foot in front of the other. Some small pieces of that redemptive stuff are spread throughout this beautiful piece. And there will be others, over time. I hope you will continue to choose to feel it, that pain. Because it is in the experience itself — ugly and hard as it may be — that redemption shows up. Lots of love to you this Eastertide. May there be more ducks in your life, day by day.

    1. “May there be more ducks in your life, day by day.” This is the best blessing I’ve ever gotten. Thank you Diana.

  16. Addie, the momma in me, yes I could be, wants to wrap you in my arms. I want to tell you it will be better, because it will, God provides, but I also know that it is in our weakness HE comes closest and as we ask, and listen, and count the gifts we find joy in this day. Praying for you.

  17. This is so beautiful. I can relate so much to what you’ve been feeling. I don’t know exactly what landed me in this place, but it’s definitely been hard to feel much of anything lately and when I do feel something I want to drown it out. Strangely enough I can relate to you right down to the detail of the ducks. My sister and I went for a walk the other day and we walked around a lake watching ducks for an hour and a half. It made me feel better than I’ve felt in a long time they were so great 🙂

    1. I know that feeling so well, Stacey. When I finally figured out I was struggling with Clinical Depression years ago, I had no idea what brought it on really. There was no blunt trauma to my life, nothing that should have induced such a weird response. But there it was. And I think there’s not always a defining reason. Sometimes it just comes.

      Glad the ducks made you happy. I love those things. 🙂

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