Christ is risen today! Alleluia! Sunday's celebration of the Resurrection of Christ was as painful as it was beautiful. I know that sounds odd and I found it be to so at first. However, upon examining the oddity or what I thought to be the oddity, I realized that it what I was experiencing was living in the reality of the paradox of our faith -- that paradox being that new life comes only after death. I was experiencing that paradox in profound ways, and there in the experience of that reality I was struck by that oddity -- by this reality.
The season of Lent for me began with companioning my friend, Ann in her birth into eternity with God. Walking that journey with Ann and her dear husband, Ron happened just before Ash Wednesday. At that moment, I sensed that dying was going to be a theme for me through Lent. I'm at this place in the practice of my faith where I feel I can no longer really tell God, "No, we are not going there!" and so my only real choice was to be faithful and surrender to whatever God -- the Holy Spirit -- desired to do within my soul during the season of Lent. On Ash Wednesday the idea of this paradox about which I am speaking began to bubble up within me and I have looked at this paradox as though it were a crystal with each cut in the crystal revealing yet another lens through which I could examine this paradox.
I realized right away that while I knew Paul, the apostle, wrote of dying to ourselves so that we could be alive to Christ was real but that I had sort of externalized that notion. I had kept it out of the reach of my soul so that this dying to myself could only mean those external things -- those things others could see like addiction, gossip, lack of compassion, lust. I think you get where I am going. However, as Ash Wednesday came and went and I sat before God daily and throughout what seemed to be every moment of every day allowing him to look at my soul and reveal to me exactly what was there, I came to understand that Paul was writing of dying to all things of him within his soul so that there would be only room for God to dwell there. It was then God allowed me so just how wretched my soul was and just how broken I was.
I have already written about my original wound being that of a child of an alcoholic and how that happened when I was so very young -- about six years old. I remember the moment well as it is the moment in my life when my mother as I knew her to be and as I needed her to be died. My life forever changed that day. As I progressed through the season of Lent and had that experience on the beach at Perdido Key when God let me remember -- re-live -- all that pain all while he had his loving arms wrapped around me I began to sense that this season of Lent had yet another theme -- that of healing my original wound -- that deep gaping wound that kept a certain portion of my soul off limits to even God himself. It was that moment I realized that that very act was indeed sinful for it kept me separated from God and we all know that sin is really anything that separates us from our experience of God -- from our relationship with God.
As I progressed further through the season of Lent and began to give words to my experience and naming feelings with regard to my original wound, and yes! even to have many deep conversations with my mother regarding my wound and how it affected even how I made my decisions and how I perceived the world around me, I sensed then that God was up to something even larger and more beautiful than I could imagine. For you see, as only God would orchestrate it a woman who had been like my sister died on Maundy Thursday evening and her viewing was Easter evening. And so it happened that on Easter evening I put on my "big girl panties" and drove myself to Faith Chapel for the visitation. As I approached the guest book to sign in a man who had been like a daddy to me met me at the door embraced me with loving arms and an open heart, no judgment, no criticism. I felt as though I had come home. The feelings were so very overwhelming that it has taken me two days to have the emotional and spiritual fortitude to even began to write about it. You see, I had, like the prodigal son, abandoned this family of mine and was welcomed home and I desperately needed it. I understand that I had abandoned this family as a form of protection -- I just couldn't stand being around them any longer because they reminded me of my broken-ness. This beautiful family came into my life at the very moment my mother left me. This family had sustained me and loved me even when my mother could not -- at least not in the way I needed it. I know now that my mother has and always did love me -- that that love did not stop as I perceived it had when her disease took over, but you see I had keep that wounded child so locked up within my soul that no one not even God -- the Holy Spirit -- would be allowed to enter there and so I put on my running shoes and ran from anyone who could remind me of who I was -- that is until this Lent.
I am grateful that the practice of my faith has brought me to this place where I can see how wretched my soul is and can participate with God in terms of willful surender as he resurrects the wounded child in me. This work, this dying to myself -- to all things Donell even the wounded child within -- has been painfully beautiful. The welcoming embrace I received as I came home -- that's the beauty of it -- that's heaven on earth -- that's what it's all about, isn't it?!
My welcome home party happened in a funeral parlor as family was celebrating my sister's heavenly welcome home party! I pray my words have captured not just my painful experience of Lent but the beauty and wonder that was my Easter gift. Perhaps what we should celebrate at Easter every year is not just that God raised Christ from the dead so that we would enjoy life eternal but what resurrection work God is doing within each one of us. I wonder... do you know what resurrection work God was trying to do within your soul?
As I visited with a dear friend this morning I found myself saying to her, "I wonder what it would look like if during the season of Lent we asked ourselves what is God trying to bring to life within our souls -- what resurrection work God is trying to do, and if at Advent we asked ourselves what is God trying to birth within us?" I think it might make a difference in how we celebrate Easter and Christmas -- those celebrations would become very personal experiences -- not just something that we celebrate that happened to Christ 2000 years ago. It would mean that our story -- our lives and how we live them really matter because somehow they connect very powerfully with God's love story that he has been telling us since time began...