Practicing Resurrection

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.

Laugh.

Laughter is immeasurable…

Be like a fox who makes more tracks

than necessary, some in the wrong direction.

Practice resurrection.

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!

 

 

About Elizabeth Nordquist

Elizabeth Nordquist is a Presbyterian pastor, teacher, and spiritual director who pens beautiful reflections on women's issues, spirituality and Scripture. Each day she looks for ways in which the Spirit is moving in and around her.

  • Patricia Estrada

    Beautiful reflection on Wendell Berry’s beautiful thoughts.

  • Donald L. Smith

    So very, very healing and helpful today. I am awestruck!

  • Erin

    Elizabeth:

    Your words are eloquent and deeply meaningful as I spend days tilling the soil of ministry, planning for the transition time when my dear colleague retires in July, celebrating what is called past and looking forward to God’s future. I spend every other waking moment (it seems!) deconstructing my garden, tearing down old and rotten fences and obstructions, transplanting old plants into new spaces, moving bricks from a useless border to a useful patio area under a bougainvillea arbor, scattering wildflower seeds, raking old leaves and recreating and bringing forth newness where there was stale and dead and stagnant growth. I love spring and the resurrection that is sure to come! Thank you for the beauty of your thoughts and your reflections. You stir in me new ways of seeing, just as you did for me in seminary and I am, once again, so very grateful for your gifts freely shared.
    Erin
    PS I cannot find a Berry book called Mad Farmer’s Almanac. It is Mad Farmer’s Poems?

  • http://www.healthyspirituality.org jean wise

    Love the Berry quote and those are words I needed to read this morning. Thank you!