Oh, friends, this has been a hard season for our family as we’ve been gathered together to walk through a severe illness with a close family member. If my understanding of the reality of resurrection was based in a one-upon-a-time kind of story that Jesus got out of death and forever left behind his humanity, I’d felt like going through with this blog series to celebrate Eastertide was a kind of hypocritical escapism. To practice resurrection is to remind ourselves daily that the same power that fluttered the dead eyelid of our friend and brother Jesus is the same power offered to us. Each day we live and move and have our being in the oxygen of resurrection power.
While our family’s been tossed about in a painful season we’re grateful for our “in person” community of family, congregation, and friends who are companioning us through the everyday tension. In the face of bullying despair, your stories and photos have added to the sum total of hope Christ offers us each day. The #practiceresurrection2019 community of guest contributors as well as those of who shared photos and captions online and added to the truth, goodness, and beauty of Wendell Berry’s poetry, have served as a descant over this season. Thank you.
It’s a delight to share this collection of stories and photos from the Eastertide season in one post. I hope you’ll take time to listen to the poem read aloud again, to read the captions and click through the links for the full posts.
As it turns out, I can’t stop referencing poets so before we enjoy the #practiceresurrection2019 finale, I’m sharing yet another gorgeous poem that came to mind while I was writing the previous paragraphs. I’m offering it as kind of call to worship as we head into the season of Ordinary Time; an invocation shaped by a defiant, “monstrous” hope that all shall, at last and forever, be well.
Thank you to each of the guests who contributed a snapshot of their daily practice of resurrection.
On no one day will you see anything change - you could lie in the field for as long as you like, and it will be gloriously monotonous.
But new life will come, and you can’t stop it. What is today won’t be next week. The short grass will be long grass. The snow will come and go. Today’s beauty must be reveled in today or lost forever. This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. And again tomorrow, which the Lord shall make.
This picture is of our daughter Lydia, four days old, under medical support, as I prayed for her. She would live 8 months, and change our faith and lives forever. Because of her, I live daily with a promise to hope for. I’m not afraid to die. In fact, I’m looking forward it. I love this life, but the next one will be better. We cannot have resurrection without death. The way to resurrection is through death, and the practice of resurrection requires us to live with the reality of death. Fear avoids: Faith looks beyond.
My daily practice of resurrection is the restoration of this place. We are bringing her back. I have developed enough skill to rebuild what farmers once built. I like the character of old things. I am absolutely certain that there is nothing cookie-cutter about this place, and I love that.
Guatemala City & Atlanta, GA
There are so many things I do not understand. My mind fills with questions, not the least of which is "Where is God?" But I find myself hearing only one response. God is near to the broken-hearted. God is present. In every sorrow, in every joy, in every unanswered question, God is present.
Parenting has been a constant reminder to me that life is up and down. I want the cuddles and the giggles, but more often than not, it feels like it the days are met with laundry, snacks, and meltdowns. But even when we know the facts, we cannot help but laugh with the joyful moments. Each day is filled with the good and the hard. So we expect what feels like the end of the world. And we laugh, too.
It's easy to be distracted by the color and cacophony around us. Even the light at the end of the tunnel can draw our focus. Sometimes, though, if we look up, we will see light.
In recognition of the Eastertide Season. I am focusing my attention on walking with the hopeless, those who struggle with doubt, who wonder, and those who may be poor in whatever way. After the Christ's resurrection, I love reflecting on Jesus' walk from the grave, the people He encountered on the way (His journey to be with His father), the conversation He had with them, and the encouragement and promises He left with them.
(Street kid carrying a bag of trash in Kisenyi Slums, Kampala, Uganda)
If we were to paint an image of what was going on the Road to Emmaus, we would recognize some of the ways we can practice resurrection with the poor, the marginalized, the wanderers, and/or hopeless in our communities.
(Plantain farming in Kisoro District, Western Uganda)
Something beautiful and divine happens when we open our hearts, minds, and lives to strangers, to people who do not necessarily look, have a different economic status, believe/worship, act, or love like us. That too, is the practice of resurrection.
Underneath the towering sycamores, next to the creeks endlessly flowing on to the Atlantic, I’m content to be little along with my little girls. And they are also learning from their teachers: the lilies of the field, the birds of the air, the trees planted by streams of water whose leaf never withers.
Going big is the way of quick profit and promotion; smallness within limits is the way of new life, the way of “two inches of humus” and even the seeds of sequoias. For me, this means a constrained and creative life, tied to a small family and a small church and a small plot of earth in a small town.
Every week, we enter through the doors of our church. It’s small and old – lived-in, well-loved. It’s not the place to enter if you think newness of life means something big and shiny. But here, to take C.S. Lewis’s words, “the inside is bigger than the outside.” There are mysteries here -- of smallness and joy (how a stable could hold a King and the whole world be changed through a few weak men). Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary. I follow the fox to church. The incongruity is stark. It certainly won’t compute. But here, most of all, by love and liturgy, I practice resurrection.
God has a compassion greater than my rulebook for clean living. God says that even the seeds of the plants that make up this tea are part prodigal. God says even the strawberry is scattered and runs off with wild types like birds and cold winds. God says, “It’s not how many times you run away, but how many times you hear me calling you home that matters most” and so that becomes my real medicine: homecoming.
I am so grateful that I can play with the Holy—that it hears my deep aches and sometimes cracks a joke—not at my expense, but right next to me. I’m grateful Love can nudge me in the middle of a serious life lecture, lean over to me and whisper, “Hey look at this” and then start chuckling heartily.
I’d rather the old thing that shows all of the ways it’s been touched and gouged and repaired and gotten a face-lift and rejected it than the new thing I do not yet know and has no history. I can be too cautious. For someone who’s terrified of ghosts, I have a lot of things that must harbor them, but when I see these things, I’m never scared, I’m always curious. Whose hands opened these drawers first? Who crafted them? Who decided they weren’t needed anymore and who reclaimed them? And have they always held items that someone was going to definitely use very soon if they could only find the time or am I the only one?
My husband and I have tried to be deliberate about building relationships with our neighbors who are physically next to us. We've found it's difficult as everyone has such busy lives. It takes being intentional and willing to run out of the house in sweatpants and with messy hear to say hello if that's when the opportunity arises. This week while talking with a family who lives on our street (who we do not know as well as we would like), their youngest son ran up to me and gave me a big, long hug. Then proceeded to run to another neighbor's yard and pick me this tulip.
For the past few years, my husband and I have made one day a week a Sabbath day where we pause from work and spend a day doing things that fill us and investing extra time with God and with those we love. We also try and spend at least a few minutes in silence with God each morning. In such a hurried culture, my default is definitely to "keep moving!" with an unending list of routine tasks on my mind. These moments, often spent on our front porch, are the perfect reset. They allow me to remember my true identity and calling in Jesus and keep me ever-mindful of my need of and dependence on God.
Before we start work, my wife and I pray a morning offering. Last year I made a card with one of my paintings on the front and the morning offering on the back. Here is one version of the morning offering by St. Therese, the Little Flower:
“O my God! I offer Thee all my actions of this day for the intentions and for the glory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I desire to sanctify every beat of my heart, my every thought, my simplest works, by uniting them to Its infinite merits; and I wish to make reparation for my sins by casting them into the furnace of Its Merciful Love.
O my God! I ask of Thee for myself and for those whom I hold dear, the grace to fulfill perfectly Thy Holy Will, to accept for love of Thee the joys and sorrows of this passing life, so that we may one day be united together in heaven for all Eternity. Amen.”
Right now I have undertaken a pretty big project: building a cottage. I am doing almost all the work myself. It is currently taking up all of my work time and energy. So I am not doing much painting right now. The hope, of my wife and I, is that some day my daughter, her husband, and future children will come and live in our big house and we will move into the cottage. But you know the old saying: if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. But plan we do and pray, and work to bring them about.
We have a place to pray that reminds us that it is not just “me and Jesus” but Jesus, us, and our many friends we have made that are not bound by time or space. Some of these icons we made, some we bought, and many are gifts from friends.
Thank you to each you who contributed a photo and caption for #practiceresurrection2019!
Caren Hoehner, VA
Monday afternoon- I said yes to a quick after school outing and so glad I did. It slowed me down long enough to see the light in his eyes.
Jen Thompson, VT
I have been raising little plant babies for several weeks now. I’m cautiously optimistic that this, my third attempt at being a gardener, may actually yield something! 🌱
Amy Dominguez, CT
When I first moved into our little home, this gigantic tree quickly became a love of mine. I immediately had visions of a gathering underneath its branches. Tonight it came true. Artists, makers, creators came, shared and received each other’s art. And this massive tree was our gallery.
photo credit: @adieldominguez
Amy Willers, CT
Today we decided we love Audrey’s right eyebrow even more than the other one.
But it didn’t start that way. She was playing with make-up when all of a sudden she said, “I don’t like my eyebrow because of the bald spot from the scar.” This simple statement hit me in the gut. It was the first time I had heard her look in the mirror and state something she didn’t like about herself. I’m not saying it’s never happened, although I pray it hasn’t before, but it was the first time I had heard it. And then I said something that I truly believe was straight from God. “What? That eyebrow is my favorite because it tells a story! A story of heroism and bravery.” She looked at me like I was crazy so I explained: it’s the story of a little girl who got hurt and had to be sewn up, with needle and thread, who was so scared, but bravely let the doctors work to sew her eyebrow back together. And then I showed her how she could fill it in with eyebrow pencil. But you know what? She rubbed it off and said she liked it better without.
Kim McHugh, Spain
Tired face lifts as I feel the warmth.
My soul responds to the Source.
A slight caress in the right amount
and I sense You know me well.
Light breeze and salt and damp
voice depth and height and power.
Tethers in my head are loosed;
I come alive with knowing You.
In the midst of a day long meeting about the dire needs of those along the refugee highway, I pause for resurrection of hope. I sit on a stone wall in the shade of a fig tree. The scent of jasmine perfumes the breeze, while birds and bees sing. There is a soft conversation in Arabic in the distance. So many messages in this moment. I sense God's presence and His whisper...I know, I know
Peggy Nagy, NY
These rows whisper hope to me, planted by a farmer who has faith that God will make his crop grow. I see little hints of green poking up defiantly through the rocky soil, stretching towards the sun, showing hints of life where it once appeared dead.
Mom…. it is complicated. It is easy to focus on the lack and the hurts that I received, and now, that I have doled out myself. As I practice resurrection and intentionally look for life and grace, there is more that comes into better focus. I see all the laughter and fun you added to my life. I see the many brave moments you entered in and embraced your life. I see your kind and generous heart. I see that you did a lot with the hand you were dealt. I remember without you I would not be me.
Tamara Murphy, CT
Oh, yesterday was a good day to be part of Church of the Apostles in Fairfield, CT! Imagining the resurrection morning while watching Vs of birds dipping over the Sound, tasting salty air mixed in with the wine and bread, gulping hot coffee to push off the late-April chill, plus all the pastries, noise makers, singing, shouting, passing the peace to new friends and old, and waiting for our Host, Jesus, to make it to every hand and mouth - inside the building and out - all of it felt like Resurrection.
photo credit: @adieldominguez