Everything That Rises…

Scripture: Luke 24:1-12; 33b-34

I believe in the resurrection not just because it happened 2000 years ago, but because resurrection power is unleashed in the world all around us.

A few days ago I was talking with a college student who felt detached. Detached from any sense of direction. Detached from his true identity. Detached from a deep communion with God. He just felt detached.

He was reflecting on how at other times in life his experience was vibrant, energizing, driven, and connected. I wondered if the student was feeling depressed, but that wasn’t what was at the heart of this experience of being detached.

One thing was certain. This was a season of detachment. Richard Rohr defines suffering simply as whenever we are not in control. This student was detached from a deeper experience of purpose, identity, and unifying meaning. He did not choose to enter into this state, and being out of control of this process can be experienced as suffering.

We were at a coffee shop and I removed the mug of my americano from its saucer. On the table in front of us was one black saucer at the center of the table. I shared with the student how our journey toward purpose, identity, belonging, and unifying meaning is often circuitous instead of linear. I traced my finger along the circumference of the saucer as we discussed the spiritual cycle of Living, Dying, and Rising.

We talked about RISING in the morning seasons of the day to new hope, and fresh possibilities. We then discussed the midday seasons of LIVING as engaged activity, and approaching life in the power of the enthusiasm, and determination you draw from the morning. But inevitably this momentum begins to wane. The exciting possibility of the morning might mutate into something wholly other than you anticipated. Sometimes that is received as a blessing and sometimes as a curse. Or eventually the tasks of the day are too much. There is always more to do. We talked about this as the oncoming of DYING in the evening seasons where we must learn to let go, surrender, and release our false illusions of control and over-importance.

I told this student I can approach the Dying of the day, and the Dying seasons of life, and I hope my eventual end of life with an abiding confidence, because I know none of these seasons lasts forever. The darkest night gives way to the dawn. The coldest winter gives way to the thawing of spring. The most agonizing loss of a life is embraced in Eternal Love and welcomed anew into the Beloved Community.

Jesus points the way to this for all of us. His life and ministry show us the Holy Mystery of this Spiritual Cycle. A child in Sunday School could probably tell us Jesus Lived, Died, and Rose. But we are invited to not just see these as realities of Jesus’ life, but realities he invites us into in our own. And while this gives us real and fresh hope for life beyond our years on earth, it also gives us real and fresh hope for living abundantly with Jesus on earth. Jesus resurrection not only invites us into celebration of the joy-filled times, but invites us to lean into the times of challenge and confusion we experience over and over again.

I told my college friend I could remember very salient moments where I felt detached, disconnected, and disoriented in life, much the same way he was undergoing currently. I told him I was fairly certain I would enter seasons like this again. The expression on his face did not look immediately encouraged by the last bit about reentering this state. Our inexperienced relationship with leaning into the Dying cycle of our spiritual lives, distances us from leaning in more fully into the Living, and Rising seasons of life as well. As we celebrate Jesus real Rising 2000 years ago, may we also be propelled by its power for abundant Living, and engaged Dying. Jesus invites us to lean into this spiritual cycle and find a deeper communion with God, ourselves, and others on the Way.