Part of my journey with community and how my inner spiritual walk participates in this season of Spring is to pay attention to both the Biblical feast of Passover and the Good Friday to Resurrection experience of Jesus, whose name literally means Salvation. This year Good Friday and the First night of Passover were on the same night. It was a full few days of spiritual practice, ritual, remembrance and community. The life force of our own stories entwined with God's story and glimpses of freedom and Salvation became tangible and marking moments for another year.
So much of me was ready for the walk from slavery, the opening empty tomb and Jesus being the hero of faith, death defeated, slaves set free. It had been a long dark winter and this was the moment we had been waiting for, the saving truth. The thing is though, I thought I needed the resurrection of Jesus to mean all the new things would come with simple ease and a sense of urgency this week. I even felt myself in a certain amount of avoidance after the busy weekend and quite frankly felt pretty weary. I got it! Parting seas, crucifixion, three days in a tomb, beams of light, angels and life, a mystery made real that could simply lead us onwards in faith and hope very grateful for the changing season. What I failed to slow down and recognize though was that my lack of eye contact with the risen Jesus had me running to avoid anything hard and when the hard things came I was faced with options. Jesus rising from the dead was the big liberating news and I guess I hoped the thought of it was good enough for me. That the intellectual exchange would satisfy the hunger.
Oh friends, it's foolishness indeed and my face slightly reddens at the limits I put around what I was and wasn't going to experience during this week of new life. Instead of an easy resurrection week I encountered a week of inside and outside suffering. I didn't realize my naïve and idealistic need for an easy resurrection. I was faced with a week of experiencing suffering when I didn't think thats how it should go. I sat with news of loss and grief and I kind of felt angry about it.
The only way I can describe where I think I ended up this week is by taking the biblical accounts of Mary and Thomas in John 20 and how they experienced encountering the risen Lord. We have probably all grown up with the story of doubting Thomas but if you read the text nowhere does it say he doubted. Instead he simply wanted to see Jesus like the others had. In his interaction with Jesus we see this risen Lord invite Thomas to touch his wounds. It actually sounds like a brave and bold invitation into a profound connection with Jesus, the essence Salvation. Could this invitation not have been about facing doubt with proof but rather the invitation for an intimate connection and acknowledgement that Jesus didn't need His resurrected body to be woundless? The language used by Jesus could be interpreted as, "see with your hands" and the word "believe" used can also be translated simply as, "connect."
What might it mean to encounter Jesus in this way? What might it mean to touch the wounds of Salvation and experience a deep connection to the outworking of your own salvation from slavery and things that have died? There is suffering in the midst of it all and it has slowly dawned on me that when we choose a so called "easy" resurrection we settle for less of a "connection". For resurrection to happen there has to be a death. For new life there is always a dying. We cant avoid the suffering.
The experience that Mary has at the empty tomb also resonated for me. After her encounters with angels and questions and a gardener Jesus speaks her name. She responds simply with the word "Rabbi (Teacher)". What might it mean to turn, in our suffering (Mary was weeping), recognize the voice of Jesus, Salvation, and simply say Teacher? When we are spinning and the suffering is close to unbearable can we say teacher to the one marked with wounds? Can we see with our hands and connect to resurrection in our stories and in others stories too? What might it look like to lean further into the sacredness of resurrection and meet Salvation in the rooms, gardens and wounds of our very existence?
Peace and grace, dear friend.