People Who Live (A Lent-ish Benediction)
My dear Lent-ish friends,
What a journey these forty days have been. The Wednesday I invited us to throw confetti in the air in place of ashes seems like a lifetime ago. The world has shifted around us, and under our feet and within us.
Which is, perhaps, the best possible way to enter into an observance of Easter.
Resurrection, you see, is not merely a happy ending to the tragedy of crucifixion for disciples huddled in their homes waiting for the day when things can go back to normal.
Resurrection insists that normal is gone.
We are instead invited to be people who live.
On the first resurrection morning, women arrived at the tomb first. But even for these women, who believe in an instant that Jesus is alive, the way of belief is not easy. They bear witness to a reality beyond their own ability to believe, and they have no idea what this means.
They go from arriving at a tomb to pay final respects in ways that were predictable and understood, to the stunning unknown of a Messiah who triumphs over death.
What does it mean to be people who live?
I assumed for most of my life that life, and certainly a life that Jesus would approve of must be polished and neat. Nice and orderly. Happy, always happy. Up and to the right.
But human life is declared very good from Creation, an affirmation renewed in the incarnation, and blown beyond belief in the resurrection.
Behold, what manner of love this is: that we are children of God! Coheirs with Christ, our elder Brother, the first among the living.
We are not called to clean up or overcome our humanity. Today is a celebration of the life that is, not just the one that is to come.
Let us be people who live, attentive and waiting for bubbles to rise in warming pots of water before the sun rises.
Let us be people who live, savoring textures and tastes and the comfort of memories as we nourish and strengthen our bodies with food.
Let us be people who live, by trying and failing and learning and growing. In getting it wrong, and saying so. By staying open to trying again.
Let us be people who live, knowing heartbreak. Feeling it in our bones. In letting our guards fall and our tears along with it. Let us wonder if our bodies can hold such sorrow.
Let us be people who live, with arms that ache to hold those we know and love and those whom we have never met and love yet the same.
Let us be people who live with scars, and pierced sides. Who do not sit waiting for soft palms before reaching out. Our wounds are glorious when we stand naked and unashamed.
Let us be people who live rejecting any notion that a culture of limited and carefully selected death is the best we can do.
Let us be people who live from the conviction that “perfect” is a thief and a liar. That “holy” looks like stooping to write in the dust and hanging out with all the wrong people. That “up and to the right” is not a path that Jesus walked. That the call is to be faithful, not successful, and faithfulness requires mostly that we show up as we are.
And that we are loved first and above all else.
And that life never stops being a choice, even when we can’t imagine it.