Wouldn’t it be nice to get the resurrection without having to deal with the death? Believing in resurrection is at the heart of our faith, but the hope does not dull the pain of death. When Jesus utters, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” on the cross in utter despair, we see that not even Jesus can know resurrection without really knowing death. The only way out is through.
My Lent this year has been saturated with death. I have been grieving the death of my parent’s marriage since my dad called to tell me he is divorcing my mom. I have been grieving the death of a potential life and the potential joy of motherhood after a painful miscarriage. I keep waiting for my default emotion to not be one of deep sadness and loss, but there is no relief, yet. I am hopeful, but also tired and hurting. I am waiting, waiting for spring and new life. There are no shortcuts to the other side. The way is long and hard, and the forsaken Jesus weeps with me.
I love Good Friday because it is a time that allows for true Lament, sadness, anger, brokenness and death. Human suffering is real. We can turn to our Jesus with all of these emotions and know that he felt them, too. God does not ask us to hide our pain or avoid it. God sits in the darkness with us. Easter does not come in the morning. It is not that easy. But Easter does come.
The image I am holding in my heart this Lent is one of the aspen tree. While an aspen tree grows strong and majestic above ground, there is more to it than meets the eye. These tree roots grow deeper below ground every year, forming an interconnected grove that will protect it and ensure its survival when the hard times come. When a forest fire comes and destroys the trees, it does not destroy the root system hidden below ground. The roots survive, sprouting new saplings, new life. My faith is my root system. The forest fire this Lent was real, and caused real death with real pain and real damage and loss. I am waiting and working, knowing my roots will indeed produce new life in and around me.
It is snowing in New York today. But soon, I trust that the trees will grow and green will emerge again. Happy Easter my friends. I send Easter hope and joy to you, an important part of my root system. For those of you in your own forest fire, be kind and patient with yourself. Your pain is real, and we must love each other to the other side.
What deaths have you endured this Lent? This year? This lifetime?
What image do you hold onto to give you hope?
When and how have you come to know the truth of resurrection after death?