Wendell Berry makes me sit right up in my chair when he writes! In this season when I am listening hard for signs of Easter, his words from The Mad Farmer’s Almanac are really provocative:
So friends, each day do something
That won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing…
Ask the questions that have no answer.
Laughter is immeasurable…
Be like a fox who makes more tracks
than necessary, some in the wrong direction.
I read these words at the memorial service of a well-loved friend last year, and have been constantly pondering what they mean. As I continue to listen for signs of resurrection this Eastertide as they happen, I have begun to hear that new life people breaks out when we practice living the new reality that Christ enacted at Easter, which the epistle writers called the power of the resurrection. In the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus, those close to him were empowered when they made a move of cooperation with that new truth–in conversation, in running, in fishing, in gathering, in praying, in sharing the story. For them it is a new dimension of faith living, doing the next right thing in trust that God will make it mean something worthy, even if it is, like Peter going fishing, tracks in the wrong direction, until the right ones can be found. It is a call to action!
I see that truth being lived it out in the people I am given to love and live with. I saw it last week on Earth Day and this week in Los Angeles as we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the LA Riots. On each of those days groups of resurrection people have gone out to heal the soils and plant new life on the sites where there had been fire and destruction; in the fullness of time there will be new vegetation and fruit in the place of blight. I have heard it in the narratives of people who have been stricken with grief and loss, no aware of any hope in their beings, who one day made a step toward trust and believing–by inviting someone to share a meal; by cleaning out a musty space; by risking a new medication; by opening a heart to the unlikely person right in front of them. I listened to stories of those who in the face of what seemed like defeat, took a step of faith in believing that in Christ there are no final defeats!
My blog is late this week because I have been stuck in a tomb cobbled together of old messages and ways of being, of reacting to what has seemed like one defeat after another in the public spheres of politics and Church, of losing people and things that I have loved. But all the time pulsing beneath and all around me is this charge to “Practice resurrection!” So I have replayed the stories– the Christ stories, the early Christian stories, the saint stories, the right here and now stories, and confronted myself with believing in that rolling away the stones of the past, the broken, the pathetic and tragic, and taking steps to get out into the spacious garden of the eternal Spring that comes with Easter.
I also remember that the way Jesus did resurrections other than his own was to give a hand, to call people out, to enlist friends to unwrap the grave clothes, to nourish after coming alive. So my practice of resurrection this week is not only to remember that the stones of gloom are not substantive and real, they have been or are being moved; but to remember to allow in the sunshine of the angels and saints who are on this journey with me, whose tales of loving the Lord, loving the world, working for nothing, laughing are all given to me to celebrate the next step in the journey.
Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen Indeed!