Risen From the Dead

3 Apr

I am up at a hideously early hour partly because I need to be up early today but mostly because my psyche awakens me when I’m in process. So at 4:00 am this morning – I opened my eyes and thought of death and resurrection. I thought of Jesus’ empty tomb and my mother’s memorial service. I thought of the fact that I will be in Easter services this morning and that in years past my mother took me to Easter services, along with making me Easter baskets and attiring me in pretty dresses for the occasion.

I suppose it makes complete sense that I would have an image of a tomb seared upon my brain first thing this morning. The mind catalogues the daily images it records, filtering through them and yesterday in service rehearsals I saw a film 3x that pans in on a tomb and watched women dance at the tomb 7+ times. I also did Mary’s voice in the film and then join the women in the dance. So, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to track the flow of my thoughts. Yet nonetheless, I’m surprised at how palpable death and resurrection feel to me this morning. 

For anyone who has lost a parent or significant loved one, we know that grief is a weird animal – coming and going at odd and unexpected intervals. And so this morning, I felt a deep twinge of sadness thinking of my mother’s love for me and the care she took to select Nancy Drew books for my Easter baskets and little gadgets that she’d knew I’d love. She almost always would include something religious in my basket – a cross necklace or a prayer book. 

Oddly, in my odd logic, I equate my mom’s suicide with Christ’s death and resurrection. Christ laid down his life so that others could live. My mom, knowing her mental illness was literally my cross – my burden – partly took her life so that I could finally be free. Her death wish – written to me – was that I be released from the toll of her depression and mental illness and that she too have relief.

On Good Friday, my pastor said, “It’s odd that Good Friday is called ‘good’ yet it is because we know the rest of the story. We know that Christ resurrects and we know that he died in an extravagant act of love for us.” Bizarrely, I feel similarly about my mom’s death. It wasn’t “good” yet I know the rest of the story. When people hear that my mom committed suicide, they think it’s awful and yes – it was awful. And when I let myself go there, thinking about how she died and the amount of tragedy building up to it, the grief is so intense I collapse under the weight of it . But, the flip side of this is that I know the rest of the story. In the very depth of my cells, I know she resurrects. I know Christ was there to meet her on the other side taking her burdens. For did he not say, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30.

And has not my life utterly transformed since her death and since my finding Christ? For I too have died and have resurrected. Nothing in my life is the same since finding Jesus. This sounds so cliche – so ludicrous and yet is so profound and so glorious. My life has transformed from the inner chaos and torture of fear, anger, anxiety, resentment and grief to one of hope and joy. True, much of this transformation has occurred because I no longer have the burden of either of my parents’ issues and mental illnesses and because I have done my time. I have paid my dues. But verily I say to you – I am not the same because of Christ. I have hope where there was only darkness. 

So on this Easter morning, I contemplate death and resurrection on many different levels and I rejoice. Yes, everything is different.

2 Responses to “Risen From the Dead”

  1. Stephanie April 4, 2010 at 11:43 pm #

    So beautiful, Lise! We are risen from the dead with Christ. As we sung this morning, “come awake!”

  2. Aunt Sue April 5, 2010 at 3:05 pm #

    Lise – I believe as wholeheartedly as you do both in Christ’s resurrection and in your mom’s purpose in dying. I rejoice with you in your transformation (from a caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly, from despair to hope) since her death and in your understanding and belief in Christ’s healing powers.
    Mega hugs from the Burg,

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