A Year of Death and Resurrection
This is a week full of death and resurrection. Of course, every week is when we pay attention.
Our last year, the year of the pandemic, has immersed us in death. People have died all over the world. More than 550,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the United States alone. Many other people have died from many other causes.
How we experience and see the world around us has been shaped by all this death.
I have talked with people from many different places who describe our pandemic year as a Lent lasting twelve months. Most of us began to recognize the virus as a part of our lives during Lent last year. It felt like we gave up our normal lives for Lent and the season of sacrifice never ended.
We remember the beginnings of the pandemic for us last year, but cannot remember Easter. The months after last March seemed to blend and blur until life was a struggle to get through each day. Death piled up around us and blocked out our sense of celebration and resurrection.
Some of us lost people we love. We had dreams and support ripped out of our hands. Each day felt like just one more in a long series of days. Mornings started to become less about possibilities and more about survival.
It became easy for us to lose sight of the relationship between death and resurrection in the world and within us.
Death became the focus of our attention and we began to forget about resurrection.
Many of us need a reminder of life beyond death. Our lives are more than preparing to die.
We arrive at this holy week just in time. Our calendars remind us it is time to pay attention and recognize resurrection again.
A Week of Death and Resurrection
This is a spectacular week embracing death and resurrection in the life of liturgical churches. It is the final week in the season of Lent and the beginning of the season of Easter.
The week culminates in an Easter which is not at all what our culture teaches us it is. There are no bunnies or eggs, no chocolate or baskets or candy.
This week is our opportunity to explore how death and resurrection fit together. We need to take our time and listen to sacred stillness within us and in the world all around us.
It is important we are not distracted by all the trapping or traditions, even the pageantry of religious celebrations. We need to pay attention to death and resurrection together.
If we listen carefully and slowly we begin to hear what stillness has to tell us. This is one week, possibly more than any other week, when we can pay attention.
We need to remember to be still and listen. The traditions and outer trappings can easily get in our way.
It is obvious, when there are so many shiny objects to distract us, there must be something important going on. We do not want to miss the deep truths of death and resurrection we have been waiting to hear all year.
Easter is not about the end of our sacrifices and disciplines. It is more than simply life overcoming death.
It is how our disciplines fit together with the rest of our lives. When we have learned the new lessons of Lent we need to incorporate them into the resurrection of Easter.
Easter is not merely about relieving our struggle with discipline. This is a week about death and resurrection.
We fit together and reinforce each other.
Encompassing Death and Resurrection
Many of us want to understand life. At least we wish life were more easily understood.
We would like to be able to figure out why people do what they do, particularly why we do what we do. Most of us have a way of trying to understand the world by breaking it into categories.
We like to believe things are either one way or another. Some of us see the world, and ourselves, in terms of good or evil, right or wrong. We know what we have been taught and we hold onto our belief we are right while others might be wrong.
This is the week which shows us, in dramatic ways, the world is not as we thought we understood it. We are not divided into right or wrong, good or evil. This is not an either/or world, and we are not either/or people.
We are not living in terms of death or resurrection, but death and resurrection. We live our lives in a both/and world.
With all the last year has taught us about death and loss, there are still lessons about resurrection buried deep in the pain we have experienced.
Reflecting on Death and Resurrection
This week is here, whether we believe we are ready for it or not.
There is nothing magical about this week. Each day of our lives is filled with death and resurrection no matter what liturgical seasons, if any, we recognize.
This week is filled with sacred stillness all around us and within us. It has waited for us, patient for our willingness to listen.
We sit in stillness and listen, contemplating the power of spiritual life in our lives. As we sit and listen this week of death and resurrection reveals itself to us.
Listening, we begin to let go of our expectations and assumptions, becoming aware of possibilities and potential.
This week is about death and resurrection. Regardless of who we have lost or what we have gained, the tides of death and resurrection wash over us this week. The tides shape us, carrying away what we no longer need and bringing in new insights and questions for our reflection.
Everyday life is full of death and resurrection. Each day brings us something new.
When will we practice living into death and resurrection this week?
How will we spend time reflecting on death and resurrection today?
[Image by mbaglarz16]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual director in Southern California. He is a recovering assistant district attorney and associate university professor, and is a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.