The Wounds of Resurrection

Doubting ThomasAs my husband prepared for an Easter sermon a few weeks ago, our dinnertime conversations during Lent turned to Jesus’s appearance to the disciples after his resurrection, to the episode where poor Thomas is saddled with his unfortunate moniker. Carravaggio painted a terribly potent picture of Thomas probing Jesus’s wounds, his lord’s flesh curving over the doubter’s finger.

With its emphasis on suffering, broken bodies, deprivation, and wounds, Lent’s focus isn’t far from the realities since my father’s cancer diagnosis a year ago: surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, the failure of his natural killer cells.

When you have a loved one with cancer, you enter the cloud of unknowing, or perhaps it’s a club of unknowing, a society of those wedged in the grief and emotional confusion that a non-linear illness brings to all who are involved. In this club you might become more familiar with the less famed side effects of chemo like neuropathy and a sensitivity to hot or cold, with the comments people make in an effort at sympathy, or with the ebb and flow of sadness, guilt, and normal life.

Lent puts us in mind of those wounds and scars, of bodies failing, of death. But when Easter comes, and we celebrate resurrection, it sometimes feels like those wounds are mended too quickly. Or perhaps they were never really healed. [Read more…]

A Dancing Christ

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On Holy Saturday, I woke up at my sister’s house in northern Minnesota with a visual migraine, an aura with no consequent pain. They happen occasionally, and mine are always pretty textbook: wavy sparkling spirals and shimmering crystalline lamellae. The aura is technically termed a scintillating scotoma, a result of a sudden tidal wave of neurochemicals and sudden neuronal silence in the occipital cortex. It’s both a terrifying and a benign experience, due to the fact that it’s a “positive” vision: something has been added to what’s seen rather than lost to darkness, internal electrical modulation piling atop the maps of the world the occipital region is continually building.

Easter has a hint of this duality, this feeling of things being both or all at once, a discomfort in overlapping edges, things unseen, things seen and mistrusted. A whole faith turns on the one thing people desire above anything else and can’t have: a friend returned, seeking rewarded, loss reversed. Though I have to wonder: would anything have mattered, would God have changed or hope for any future been snuffed if the resurrection had not occurred, if Christ hadn’t separated himself from our fates and our greatest suffering—the loss of who we love—at the last minute?

I’ve been reading the apocryphal Acts of John in small pieces a lot lately. To call it a book would be to ignore that it is in pieces; the puzzle of its fullness can never be solved and also can be solved in multiple ways. It was likely written down in the second century and tells the story of the Apostle John’s journey to and life in Ephesus. But I’ve been reading it for the dancing Christ John gives us after the Last Supper, the moving man of flesh approaching the arch of his life’s trajectory. [Read more…]

Jesus Through Poets’ Eyes

15416184450_c48e41f5e6_mIn my Catholic faith, Easter lasts for seven weeks, until Pentecost; so I’m not too late with this little Easter offering. This year for Easter, instead of hunting for colored eggs, I hunted through my book The Poets’ Jesus for some of the many ways that poets have seen Jesus over the centuries. I found hundreds; but here, lined up chronologically in their carton, are a key dozen.

As indeed He sucked Mary’s milk
He has given suck—life to the universe.
As again He dwelt in His mother’s womb
in His womb dwells all creation.

This eye-opener comes from fourth century Syrian poet Ephrem, for whom the Incarnation marvelously turned everything in the universe upside down—here, imaging Jesus as mother. [Read more…]

Saint Death and Easter

Guest Post
By Chris Hoke

I got a call from a number I didn’t recognize. The voice was low, lifeless. He just got out of jail, and the guys in there told him to call me.

I function as a volunteer chaplain in Washington State’s Skagit County Jail, and I’m the closest thing to a pastor most gang members in my valley have known. Jail-tier referrals like these are how my tiny congregation grows.

The next day, I picked this new guy up and we sat at my kitchen table.

Danny was a quiet young man. He grabbed a coffee cup with a hand that had skeleton bones tattooed over his fingers, up over his wrist. A ghastly ink mural of a wide-mouthed skull poured out from his throat, darkening most of his neck.

He wanted help getting off heroin, he said. He heard we at Tierra Nueva Ministries help guys get a job sometimes, and that we do a spiritual drug recovery program. He wanted…”I don’t know…prayer, I guess. Right?”

So we prayed. I held his skull hands in mine. It wasn’t much of a leap: I asked if he’d ever given himself over to the power of Death.

[Read more…]

God For Us: An Interview with Luci Shaw

Guest Contributor

We’re proud to announce that Image, the sponsor of this blog, played a central role in the publication of a wonderful new book God For Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter. Co-edited by Image editor Gregory Wolfe and Image board member Greg Pennoyer, God For Us features meditations for every day of Lent by some of the most highly regarded spiritual writers of our time, including Richard Rohr, Kathleen Norris, Ronald Rolheiser, Luci Shaw, and Scott Cairns.

We are publishing interviews by Paraclete Press with several of the contributors in the next few weeks. Today’s interview features Luci Shaw.

Paraclete Press: How does the title God For Us apply to the weeks preceding Easter?

Luci Shaw: The term God For Us fulfills the promise revealed earlier in God With Us. The birth of Jesus was the beginning of a whole new realm of grace fleshed out in the God-man life. This life and its final years of ministry were destined to take place before the final world-changing events of Holy Week as we remember the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ.

The two events at the beginning and end of Jesus’ earthly life are like the parentheses of salvation. One without the other was never part of the divine plan; both were and are vital. Both were and are essential in order for the purposes of God to be fulfilled in redeeming humanity.

PP: Why is the observance of Lent spiritually necessary?

LS: Speaking very personally, I’m convinced that the observance of Lent is spiritually necessary for me, and I suspect for many others, because I am too easily occupied with other busy-making doings that distract and take up time and energy. I know this is detrimental to my soul’s health.  I need Lent in order to remind myself to slow down (I love it that the word lent in French means slow).

[Read more…]


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