A Practice Resurrection finale for a monstrous Eastertide

photo credit:  @adieldominguez

photo credit: @adieldominguez

 
Let him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east.
— "The Wreck of the Deutschland", Gerard Manley Hopkins

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.

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that-pierced-died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.
The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.
— "Seven Stanzas at Easter", John Updike


Thank you to each of the guests who contributed a snapshot of their daily practice of resurrection.

Micah Thompson

Hinesburg, VT

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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.


Sarah Quezada

Guatemala City & Atlanta, GA

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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.

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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.


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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.

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(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.

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(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.


Amanda McGill

Southwest Ohio

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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.

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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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?


Suzanne Rodriguez

Rochester, NY

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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.

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We meet up weekly with a group of fellow Jesus-followers to eat a meal together, ask questions (that many times don't have answers), and share in the realities of life with each other.

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.


Jim Janknegt

Elgin, TX

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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.”

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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! 🌱

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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


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Practice Resurrection with Suzanne Rodriguez (Rochester, NY)

Welcome to the sixth guest post in a new-and-improved version of the the Practice Resurrection series!

I’ve invited several friends and acquaintances to share a snapshot of their lives during the weeks of Eastertide (between now and Pentecost Sunday, June 9th). As in other series of guest posts, I pray about who to invite and for this series I was contemplating the ways these women and men consistently invite us through their social media presence to regularly consider restoration, beauty, and goodness even, and maybe especially, in the face of difficulty. I’ve asked each guest to share snapshots of their present daily life inspired by Wendell Berry’s  poem, “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”.

Today’s guest is a friend from our hometown, both of us living in new places now. I’ve been grateful to stay connected to Suzanne through social media not only for the reminder of home but for new insight into the transformative power of love of God, people, and place. Suzanne and her husband Agustin live out the beauty of the Gospel in a truly diverse community of Christians intent on seeing God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. I’m always encouraged by Suzanne’s focus on the beauty that surrounds her even in a city struggling to emerge from post-industrial depression. She and her community live out a prophetic imagination that turns places of evil into places of  redemption. I hope you’ll be deeply encouraged by Suzanne’s post to see your own city with a refreshed, resurrected imagination.

First, take a moment to listen to Suzanne read the poem as she walks around the border of the property of Heart & Soul Church where drug paraphernalia can always be found. This is the same plot of land Suzanne held her wedding in the summer of 2016. Talk about practicing resurrection!


(don’t) Love the quick profit, the annual raise,

vacation with pay.

I'm in the process of reducing the hours of my full-time job so that I can have more time to pursue my passions. Though it's a far cry from "take all you have and be poor," it's a baby step in the right direction.

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(don’t) Want more

of everything ready-made. 


One of my favorite activities is making food from as original a source as possible. This week I made Vanilla Bean Custard.

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(don’t) Be afraid

to know your neighbors and to die.


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. 

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So, friends, every day do something

that won’t compute. 

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.

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Love the Lord.

Love the world. Work for nothing.

Take all that you have and be poor.

Love someone who does not deserve it. 

Last week my church co-hosted (with the Rochester Latino Rotary) an "Opioids In Our Community" forum with a panel of local experts. Situated in a neighborhood notorious for drug traffickingwe desire to understand the issues surrounding drug dependency and what small parts we can play in stopping the destructive cycle.

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Ask the questions that have no answers. 


We meet up weekly with a group of fellow Jesus-followers to eat a meal together, ask questions (that many times don't have answers), and share in the realities of life with each other.

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Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias. 

And herbs! I don't have a great track record being able to keep green things alive (I've killed cacti before), but I'm trying to put in the time and attention it takes to help plants grow and produce fruit.

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As soon as the generals and the politicos

can predict the motions of your mind,

lose it. Leave it as a sign

to mark the false trail, the way

you didn’t go. Be like the fox

who makes more tracks than necessary,

some in the wrong direction. 

Participating in the #the100dayproject has challenged me to just jump in and create something every day. I haven't created a masterpiece each day and that's ok. This project has brought lessons in persistence and grace. It has also led me to dabble in various media, helping me discover which techniques I want to leave behind and which processes I'd like to play with more. (Find Suzanne on Instagram.)

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Practice resurrection.


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Suzanne Rodriguez lives in Rochester, NY with her husband Agustin. They enjoy traveling, breaking bread around the table with friends old and new, and being a part of their multi-cultural inner city church family, Heart & Soul Community Church, where Suzanne is the Director of Arts & Marketing. Suzanne currently works in online advertising and is starting a marketing business with her husband to equip small businesses and nonprofits with what they need to be able to create effective brand awareness at an affordable cost.


(You can see all the Practice Resurrection 2019 guest posts here.)

Practice Resurrection with Jennifer Willhoite (California)

Welcome to the fifth guest post in a new-and-improved version of the the Practice Resurrection series!

I’ve invited several friends and acquaintances to share a snapshot of their lives during the weeks of Eastertide (between now and Pentecost Sunday, June 9th). As in other series of guest posts, I pray about who to invite and for this series I was contemplating the ways these women and men consistently invite us through their social media presence to regularly consider restoration, beauty, and goodness even, and maybe especially, in the face of difficulty. I’ve asked each guest to share snapshots of their present daily life inspired by Wendell Berry’s  poem, “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”.

I was first introduced to today’s guest through her utterly delightful presence on Instagram. Jen’s daily stories, conversations, and posts remind me to pay attention to the beauty of even the tiniest moments of my day while not taking myself too seriously. Since then I’ve wisely responded to every invitation Jen’s offered through her blog and newsletter, offering spiritual stories and tools for folks who are more donkey than saint. (I still giggle every time I read this invitation!) I’ve also bookmarked several of the handmade tools for prayer and contemplation in her Etsy shop, Cobbleworks.

May your perspective of resurrection be enlarged as you read Jennifer Willhoite’s humble and piercing insight in today’s post.

First, take a moment to listen to Jen read the poem.


(don’t) Want more of everything ready-made

I only know my dad’s dad through stories. He died years ago on another continent when my dad was yet a man. I’ve heard enough about the way he darned socks on a train not caring about the questioning stares and about his quiet and tenacious demeanor towards social justice to feel like I know some of him. So I talk to him in my prayers and in my everyday routines asking him where I might look for hope in my life’s holes and disrepair. I know he was brave. I know things charged at him and he held his ground. I know he got knocked down and got back up out of love, not out of spite so he knew about resilience and resurrection, but I need first his spirit of repair when I feel torn. He mended clothes, homes, relationships, fishing lines and more. I show him my missing pieces while picking up a needle and scrap yarn and I ask, “Do you think the biggest holes in me, the ones stretching themselves into life-sized questions will ever be patched? Will I ever have answers to how I can deal with regret or missed opportunity or wasted time?” And although I have no memory of his real voice, I can hear something in my heart and I think it’s him and he says this: “Patch the small ones, mend and repair with gratitude for new life. And as for the big ones, the big gaps of misunderstanding and confusion, just let them become as large as the ocean. Don’t worry about walking on the water, just let the current carry you while you float on your back.” So I fix the small almost every day and surrender to the larger current as I can for I cannot undo all of my mistakes nor can I fix all of my tears, but I can put myself in the place of transformation: flat on my back, staring at the sun and being carried by a Love greater than me.

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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? And did everyone else who had these on their shelves at work or at home walk by them and think, “Simple wooden drawers, you may well outlive me. Will a part of me be stuck within you when I’m gone?” Maybe when my body is underground and my soul is running off with God there will be some ghost of me lingering with these old things in someone else’s house and my legacy will be to invite them to ask questions and hold onto dreams they want to make time for. 


Say that the leaves are harvested

when they have rotted into the mold.

Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

These books should have been mailed to my dad a week ago. I’ll get to them  and to the letter I need to write to accompany them. These flowers were trimmed when I first brought them in. The crystal vase was filled with water and each stem was artistically arranged. People came into the house and said it smelled fresh and said,  “My! Isn’t that a beautiful bouquet! Your home feels so welcoming” and I felt calm, centered and proud because everything had it’s place and it was a mutually agreed upon place. But now, just a few days later, the bouquet has been disassembled and trimmed again to squeeze a little more life out of each flower. The browning blooms have been put in common jars and I leave the dead ones on the table. The to-do’s like mailing packages and writing the letters pile around the make shift vases. People walk in and wonder what the weird smell of rotting stems and dust is and I feel embarrassed and frustrated: “Why can’t I just maintain a nice routine that ensures everything stays neat and tidy? Why do I have to be so lazy and careless?” I try to remember that every time I say, “I’ll get to that really soon” what I’m really saying is, “I’m running from something” or “I’m throwing myself into something”. Either way, the flowers will have to rot because there is no polite routine that makes space for fears and joys that big. People will have to endure the smell I’m afraid.

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Put your faith in the two inches of humus

that will build under the trees

every thousand years.

Humility is apparently rooted in the earth, in humus and in remembering that from dust we all come and to dust we all return and that in between we are free and encouraged, to be nourished by this beautiful creation of soil, water and air. I’m often on the verge of a bigger sickness, but these earthy teas and the fruit and vegetables of the garden keep me vibrant. I’m ashamed to admit that when I know better, I don’t always do better. I turn away from this humble medicine. I want to insist that I can do whatever my shallow appetites demand without any consequence. When I do, I get sick and hurt and mad at myself for not being obedient and good, for running off like a selfish prodigal. But 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.

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Swear allegiance

to what is nighest your thoughts.

More mending as I can’t stop thinking about scarcity and not having enough, not being enough. And yet I’m also too big and too much and must get smaller and de-clutter, not just myself, but my belongings and my thoughts as well. My mind cannot out-think this. It has run out of ideas. And my heart and soul are tired. They have felt these feelings for so long that they need a rest from them. What is left are my hands so I will take this stained sweater and cover the marks with a big patch of first aid and lots of little crosses, little pluses. The routine of stitching them is convincing me there is an abundance in the Holy I can trust if only I could put my hands on it and feel it for myself. Hand held resurrection and hope is what should have been printed on the spool of thread and the box of needles. I plan on ordering a dozen of each.

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Expect the end of the world. Laugh.

Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful

though you have considered all the facts.

Not weirdly for me, I started carving a block about my craving and wanting with questions on how to tame it or make peace with it and not weirdly, what came from this was a silly strawberry monster, something childlike and honest. It made me laugh out loud when everyone else in the class was quietly thinking and working. I don’t care about this kind of embarrassment anymore. 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 don’t need to go to my mind’s “guidance counselor’s office” every day  and hear about how I need to take things more seriously or get my head out of the clouds or that I also think too much and need to de-stress. I just need a sacred friend who can say, “let’s go” and then runs ahead, leaving its hand out for me to grab while we leap and plunge into the river of life together. I need that Sacred Rebel. Am I fool? Probably. Will I be successful? Who knows. Is time running out to jump into the deep end? Maybe. Yeah. So I’m leaping. God says the water’s warm.

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Practice resurrection.


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Jennifer Willhoite is an author, illustrator and spiritual teacher who helps folks forge and heal their relationships to themselves and the Sacred through illustrated stories and tools.  She teaches on the Ignatian Examen which helps her celebrate the sacred in the ordinary and saved her from a life of functional despair. She is illustrating and writing her first book. She studied theology at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA for two years and completed coursework in contemplation at Mercy Center in Burlingame, CA and Ignatius House in Atlanta, GA. You can find her illustrated stories and tools on Instagram @cobbleworks and join her monthly newsletter by emailing her at, jencobbleworks@gmail.com


(You can see all the Practice Resurrection 2019 guest posts here.)

Practice Resurrection with Amanda McGill (Southwest Ohio)

Welcome to the fourth guest post in a new-and-improved version of the the Practice Resurrection series!

I’ve invited several friends and acquaintances to share a snapshot of their lives during the weeks of Eastertide (between now and Pentecost Sunday, June 9th). As in other series of guest posts, I pray about who to invite and for this series I was contemplating the ways these women and men consistently invite us through their social media presence to regularly consider restoration, beauty, and goodness even, and maybe especially, in the face of difficulty. I’ve asked each guest to share snapshots of their present daily life inspired by Wendell Berry’s  poem, “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”.

I first met today’s guest through The Homely Hours, the beautiful blog she collaborates with a couple other “churchwomen” providing an excellent resource for those wanting to orient home life around the daily, weekly, and seasonal liturgies of the Anglican tradition. No matter your denomination, if you love the Church and you hope to influence the next generation to do the same, take time perusing The Homely Hours website or follow on Facebook or Instagram. In this season of Eastertide, I’m so grateful to Amanda for sharing a snapshot of her life living out the reality of resurrection.

First, take a moment to listen to Amanda reading us the poem, and please don’t miss the adorable poetry buffs who show up at the end!


So, friends, every day do something

that won’t compute.

At this point in the poem, the Mad Farmer turns from ways to practice profit, fear, and death, to ways to practice life and resurrection. “Every day do something that won’t compute,” he says, which contains everything that follows. My main theme in “practicing resurrection” fits within his statement, too: Amanda, learn to be small and happy.

As you keep reading, you’ll find I’m a person who takes myself too seriously. I grow huge in my mind, but not small enough to delight in the real world. By “small,” first, I mean to be simpler inside, to be content with limits; and then I see the principle expand.  My children are my teachers.

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.

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Love the world. Work for nothing.

When I take these statements together, I think of making a place where love dwells. In another poem, Berry calls it “my art of being here.” This photo is of my first real garden and it has been my primary Eastertide practice. For years, I’ve overthought, become overwhelmed, and barely done anything. This year I told myself, “It’s fine to not get it perfect the first time; just start small, Amanda!” And it’s made me so happy.

There’s love in places where people garden and I’ve known that even when I’ve been too fearful to start. Gardening sends down roots into the order of the world, which is love. And Love spends itself lavishly on perennials and fruit trees, in hope.


Say that your main crop is the forest

that you did not plant,

that you will not live to harvest.

My children and I often go to the forest, the “peace of the woods.” I’ve been inspired by Charlotte Mason, the great British educator at the turn of the 20th century, to attempt four to six hours a day outside with my children (“attempt” is key). I do this because it’s good for me, good for all of us. Outside, I’m not harassed by my to-do list or frustrated with the futility of housework (not to detract from its meaning and value). “I rest in the grace of the world, and am free,” as Berry says in The Peace of Wild Things. 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.

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Expect the end of the world. Laugh.

Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful

though you have considered all the facts.

G.K. Chesterton said, “Pride is the downward drag of all things into an easy solemnity. One ‘settles down’ into a sort of selfish seriousness; but one has to rise to a gay self-forgetfulness...For solemnity flows out of men naturally; but laughter is a leap. It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light.”

 I could belabor my lack of lightness, but that only makes me sink deeper into “selfish seriousness.” Here, I know that my children are given to me as a gift, always offering a way into laughter and happy smallness (as well as the chance to frame the daily frustrations into the ludicrous). My husband is also my good match, who “belittles” me in all the best ways: with wit, kindness, and love.


Go with your love to the fields.

Lie easy in the shade. 

Can I “lie easy” and relax with my husband, my children? Do I have enough space in my soul that I can release the pressure to keep accomplishing things? Can I, as Pope Francis questions, “waste time with my children?” Am I small enough to enjoy this moment? Do I have to think it to death? (And now I will stop overthinking).

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Practice resurrection.

In the end, I take Berry’s phrase to “practice resurrection” as shorthand for St. Paul’s words in Romans 6, we are “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” We walk in “newness of life.” 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.

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Amanda McGill lives in Southwest Ohio with her husband Jon and two young daughters. In 2015, she and her friends started The Homely Hours, a liturgical living resource in the Anglican tradition. She is music director at Christ the King Anglican Church in Dayton. She perpetually rereads C.S. Lewis and Jane Austen; but currently, she is interested in everything written by Rumer Godden and Martin Thornton.  If she has any free time, she’ll spend it reading and writing (after running).


(You can see all the Practice Resurrection 2019 guest posts here.)

Practice Resurrection with Brendah Ndagire (Uganda)

Welcome to the third guest post in a new-and-improved version of the the Practice Resurrection series!

I’ve invited several friends and acquaintances to share a snapshot of their lives during the weeks of Eastertide (between now and Pentecost Sunday, June 9th). As in other series of guest posts, I pray about who to invite and for this series I was contemplating the ways these women and men consistently invite us through their social media presence to regularly consider restoration, beauty, and goodness even, and maybe especially, in the face of difficulty. I’ve asked each guest to share snapshots of their present daily life inspired by Wendell Berry’s  poem, “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”.

This week’s post is from a woman I haven’t yet had the privilege to meet in real life, but have come to respect her perspective as a Ugandan woman telling her own story as well as advocating for others. Brendah consistently speaks with remarkable courage and passion for the marginalized in places throughout the world while also delighting in the beauty in her own life and each place that she’s lived. I’m so glad to be able to share her perspective of practicing resurrection right now. She gives us insight into wonder of the story of the post-resurrection appearance of Christ to his friends on the Emmaus Road and invites us to consider the ways we can join him in that very same conversation right now wherever we live.

First, take a moment to listen to Brendah reading us the poem from her home in Uganda.


Practicing Resurrection on the Road to Emmaus

(Luke 24:13-35)

Kasanvu community along the Uganda Railway, Greater Kampala Area, Uganda. (Brendah Ndagire's photo)

Kasanvu community along the Uganda Railway, Greater Kampala Area, Uganda. (Brendah Ndagire's photo)

When we think about the practice of Christianity, the first ideas that come to mind are: to gather and participate in worship every Sunday morning, getting baptized, or sharing the word of the Lord and participate in Kingdom building, which is also known as discipleship. These acts are all wonderful and they should be celebrated. However, what is usually not paid attention to, is the practice of walking with the poor, the marginalized, the wanderers, and/or hopeless. I equate the latter, with the practice of resurrection, which is derived from Wendell Berry's “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front.”

Plantain Farming in Kisoro District, Western Uganda. (Brendah Ndagire's photo)

Plantain Farming in Kisoro District, Western Uganda. (Brendah Ndagire's photo)

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.

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.

Street Kid carrying a bag of trash/rubbish in Kisenyi Slums, Kampala, Uganda. (Brendah Ndagire's photo)

Street Kid carrying a bag of trash/rubbish in Kisenyi Slums, Kampala, Uganda. (Brendah Ndagire's photo)

In Luke 24:14-15, we would identify that people were talking with each other about EVERYTHING (probably about their brokenness over Christ's death, or personal brokenness, daily struggles, their doubts, discontents etc). In an age of social media and smartphones, Christians even in an economically poor nation like Uganda, barely have time to speak with each other about everything. If it is hard enough to speak with those whom we have a close relationship with, how likely that we would be able to speak with the economically poor, socially marginalized, and/or the hopeless in our communities? To practice resurrection is to SPEAK/TALK about everything with those we encounter on the way or in our communities.

What else was happening on that road to Emmaus?

In Luke 24:17, we identify that Jesus also came along and walked with the people. But he did not stop there, He asked an open ended and provocative question, “what are you discussing together as you walk along?” And part of how we can practice resurrection is by asking questions and seek understanding from those we encounter on the way, on the streets, or in the ghettos/ slums of big cities.

For me, may be my questions may not be as rebuking as Jesus'. But when I walk in the streets or slums of Kampala, I am curious to know the stories of the people I encounter there. I ask myself: Why is this child living in this slum? What is s/he doing on the street? Why is/are s/he or they picking from the trash can? Why is this river in Kasanvu is so dirty and smelly? Why are people living near this river in the first place? What they doing for themselves to live a dignifying life? What can I do to affirm their dignity?

River in Kasanvu slum carrying some of the sewage from Kampala City, Uganda. (Brendah Ndagire's photo)

River in Kasanvu slum carrying some of the sewage from Kampala City, Uganda. (Brendah Ndagire's photo)

There were many things happening on that road to Emmaus. Among these were Jesus reminding the people of who He was, and what had happened. I also want to point out another way we can practice resurrection, is inviting others (the poor, marginalized or hopeless) into our lives (see Luke 24:29- 30). It is not enough to ask questions, it is also important to invite, open our doors, and share our (whether scarce or abundant) resources with others, even when they seem not to be in need of them. At the invitation of Jesus Christ “to stay with them, ...He took Bread, gave thanks, broke it, and began to (share) it to them.” And once that happened, “they recognized Him.” I find that particular verse powerful. It teaches me that 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.


 Prayer for Practicing Resurrection

Give us grace, O God, to dare to do the deed which we well know cries to be done. Let us not hesitate because of ease, or the words of men’s mouths, or our own lives. Mighty causes are calling us - the freeing of women, the training of children, the putting down of hate and murder and poverty - all these and more. But they call with voices that mean work and sacrifice and death. Mercifully grant us, O God, the spirit of Esther, that we say: ‘I will go unto the King and if I perish, I perish.’ — Amen.
— Excerpt from Prayers for Dark People by W.E.B. Du Bois, ed. Herbert Aptheker. 1980. University of Mass Press, Amherst.

My Practice Resurrection Song

“All the Poor and Powerless” by All Sons & Daughters

YouTube | Lyrics

 

Brendah Ndagire is a Ugandan International Development Professional. She is currently working as a Communications Associate with Uganda Christian University (UCU) Partners - a freelance blog writer, writing stories of impact, empowerment, and affirmation. Interested in peace theology, feminism, social justice, and global politics.


(You can see all the Practice Resurrection 2019 guest posts here.)