Day 104- The Mile I left the tomb

“And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.” Matthew 28:9

Two minutes before, the women were still at the tomb, afraid. The lover of their soul was not there, and they experienced a mix of fear and joy like never before. A healthy and reverent fear of God mixed with the joy of Easter, knowing that everything was about to change.

Easter was not spent at a temple or a church, it was spent at a tomb

Empty, cold and lifeless. And the first Easter included only two women, unknown to the world, and without titles or fame. Yet the Lord chose them as His resurrection disciples, why? To show the world that He chooses the weak things of this world to shame the wise. That forever and in eternity these women will  be known, loved, and adored by our resurrected King. In God’s economy, the weakest are the most powerful, for they hold the keys to the Kingdom.

Why did the angel first invite the women to see the inside of the tomb before he admonished them to go quickly into Galilee? Because one must spend some time inside of the tomb before experiencing the joy of Easter. And Jesus admonishes us to do the same.

This message can be lost if we do not fully transition ourselves from Lent to Easter. If we do not leave the emptiness of the tomb behind for something more. Jesus is telling us not to stay there. Not to stay in sadness and mourning, but to enter divine joy. 

This may be hard for us to do right now. Our Easters may have felt lonely and cold. We may have felt empty inside, missing friends and family, and our memories. Many people around the world were also ready to enter the church on Easter, and now find themselves still desperate and waiting for our Lord. This message is for them too.

Today, we are not at the tomb. Our emptiness must subside. Today, the Lord will meet us wherever we are, unable to move, moving or walking backwards. In that, get down on your knees and pay Him homage. If you are able to do that you are not inside the tomb, you are in the sunlight of Easter.

 

 

Day 103- The Resurrection Mile

“On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb”

John 20:1

While we still lie in darkness, while the earth lies in gloom, we slowly slip away to visit the place where our Lord is buried, to marvel with Mary of Magdala, at the stone that had been rolled away with wonderment and awe. The earth is heavy, but the heavenly grave is not, filled with hope and the anticipation of a new day. In the darkness, we are with her, tears and smiling, knowing that we do not have to see His body to believe in His resurrection. The emptiness testifies to it, that is where He is.

In the thickest of fog and dark night of the soul is the voice of our Lord. He is with us in our deepest pain, creating joy in madness. And when we see the emptiness, we do not run away from it, but towards it, to marvel at the work of the cross. What a great mystery!

To find God, one must come running to nothingness

When we’ve abandoned ourselves, our ideas of who God is and what He looks like, we too can visit the tomb with Mary. But unlike Mary, we can run with confidence back to our homes, our friends, and shout, He is not there! He has been raised!

It is the great hope of Easter that makes me a Christian. The knowing that out of the darkness will come a great light.

The embrace of the dawn, just before the rising of the sun, is the embrace of Christ

We are an Easter people. We believe in the darkness. We rejoice at the grave. We see the miracle in the dark sky before the sun has arrived. This is God’s grace.

What other faith do we need? Is there another promise that can bring us gladness? Everyday on the calendar is spent in the joyful hope of Easter, knowing that God has bigger and greater plans for us, on earth as it is in heaven.

Why do we seek the living among the dead? We know darkness because we know light. Today, let the emptiness of the tomb fill us as we await our Risen King.

Let us be an Easter people for our Lord

 

Day 96- The Loneliest Mile

“But Mary Magdalene and the other Mary remained sitting there, facing the tomb.” Matthew 27:61

“One of the first signs of the beginning of understanding is the wish to die. This life appears unbearable, another unattainable. One is no longer ashamed of wanting to die; one asks to be moved from the old cell, which one hates, to a new one, which one will only in time come to hate. In this there is also a residue of belief that during the move the master will chance to come along the corridor, look at the prisoner and say: “This man is not to be locked up again, He is to come with me.”
― Franz Kafka, Blue Octavo Notebook

(Listen to “On the Nature of Daylight” while you read today’s piece)

A tomb is a place where the dead go to die. Where the soul leaves the body. Where breath is not present. Where life is no more.

Inside the tomb, there is hollow and darkness. No love, just pain. The hope of light is lost and the dawn of daylight is far away. We ache at the thought of our loved one being lost to the night forever, and grieve at the passage of time, the regret of loss, and the emotions which consume us. There is no cure for broken heartedness. There is only the passage of time.

While some of us flee and fail to grieve, move on with our daily lives to forget, others stay beside the grave, beside the tomb. We feel every bit of our grief, allow time to stop.

We allow our emotions to consume us, guard the headstone, and lay at the feet of the one we love. We mourn at loss, make peace with the sky, but cannot see its face. We miss the smell of life, the joy of closeness and the flesh that He once wore.

We are alone.

Sitting next to the tomb is unfulfilling and hollow, but we cannot move- He still beckons us. While others have gone astray, we remain embracing, steadfast and tears. It does not matter that there is just us. We guard Him now as we guarded Him then. The love still in our hearts. The wounds still in our hands. The eternity we still carry. The blood that sustains us, running through our veins.

We stay because He is our Master. We stay because He is our friend. We stay because never before have our hearts been touched in such a way as this.

We stay because it is alright to grieve.

Who else will guard His tomb? They have all went away- every one of them. We remain. The weak things of this world. The vision of two lowly women in the world’s eyes guarding the King of the Universe.

And even though a stone is in our way, the compulsion for it to move is greater. It is greater than us, of our souls and of our being. It is our fiat.

I will not leave Him because I love Him. Because He trusts me. Because He knows that I will stay.

Let the night bring His death but the day His resurrection. May I see what I cannot see now. The morning of hope. The fruit of loss. And the remembrance of everything that I have gained.

No, tomorrow is not promised but He is. I AM. Not I was. He is present, alive, here- yes, even in death.

In His finality I am sorrowful, but hopeful of his triumphant return. The strings of the violin, my tears, His pain, and the wood that bore His body. That is all gone now. So I will sit and wait for my heart to return to me. The lover of my soul. The one that knows every breath of me.

My love, you are the eternity in my heart. The song in my tears. You are everything. And I will wait until you rise again in your triumphant procession. The Easter that you created. The rising you predicted. I will use my tears to water the soil surrounding your grave.

Lord, you are and always will be the reason I exist, the cry of my heart, the depth of my soul. Your song is joy. The cross is my joy. Rest now my love while I sit by and let you sleep while I keep watch- as you do for me every moment of my life. I look forward to your coming, your awakening and mine, when we will see each other again face to face. When I will touch your lips and your hands.

You transcend time. 

My risen Savior, the tomb is just the beginning of your emergence. Your song. The silent way you tell us that everything will be o.k. I know that you have not forsaken me.

So I will remain sitting here, facing the tomb.

 

 

This Easter, leave the thorn in place

But to keep me from being puffed up with pride because of the many wonderful things I saw, I was given a painful physical ailment, which acts as Satan’s messenger to beat me and keep me from being proud. Three times I prayed to the Lord about this and asked him to take it away. But his answer was: “My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak.” I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me.

2 Corinthians 12:7-9

It is Day 38 of Lent and I am weak. I tell you this because it’s true. The Apostle Paul tells you the same in the very next words of verse 10, “I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me.”

I’ve read this verse a thousand times, it is a Christian staple. My brain gets in the way though. My thinking, my complication, my resistance to hear what the Holy Spirit has to say. I think I know better, I think I’m smarter. I am not. I am a garbage can of thoughts. I have an agenda. I am a mess of a human. And this, this has led me to fall on my knees in front of the altar of my God. He expects me. He expects me to do this as homage to Him. He knew I would fail. He knew I would be here. Nothing is a surprise to the King of the universe.

In my great anxiety I was exasperated, when God? when will the pain end? The anxiety is too much and I am failing you Lord. Many have told me I have no faith if my anxiety has taken over. That I am lacking. This continued to make me feel less than, a betrayer of the one who saved me. Am I Judas Lord? I questioned myself. And this brought me into an even greater despair. Such is the plot of the enemy.

As I sat in front of the crucifix at mass this morning my anxiety was palpable. It was physiological. I was a mess of nerves and sweat. Things were not going according to plan. But when I fell to my knees, the devil couldn’t penetrate the grasp of the Holy Spirit, He spoke that scripture to me.

I had asked so many times, sometimes from minute to minute for God to take away my anxiety, for God to take away my physiological response when things get tough. But God has refused me. I never saw it as something to give up on- I always believed that someday it would be gone. But today I heard a freeing truth- it will never go away. It can’t be prayed away, anointed or exorcised. It can’t be charasmatically eliminated. It is the very thing that brings me to my knees. It is the very thing that keeps me glued to Christ.

I bowed my head… yes Lord! Yes Lord this is my cross!!! It is not a lack of faith but a gift. Yes Lord it is all grace. And in that moment I accepted all of it- the heart racing, the sweat, the tears, the inability to eat, the rocking back and forth, the pain, the panic. It was all beautiful now. It was all a gift of God.

How could it have taken me this long??? Six years and thirty eight days into Lent I had a massive explosion. God had broken me. And I repeated Stephen Colbert’s quote in my mind,

It’s that I love the thing that I most wish had not happened. 

Our weaknesses are exquisite, they are not demeaning, or false or something to be prayed out. Rather, they are something to be taken in, accepted. They are the cross of Christ, the crown of thorns, the torn body. They are blood on my hands, my human betrayal and my failure to stay just one hour. And they are…everything.

Easter is coming but my anxiety will remain. I will not pull out the thorn in my side. It is a piece of the crown of thorns that keeps me in His arms.