Rising should be the easy part, no? After the fear, the suffering, the darkness, the hard work, and the waiting, I feel like rising should be effortless. Despite that, I feel weighted down by resistance to rising. This should not be a surprise; at this same time last year, I wrote about not knowing how to rise.
It’s not just the promise of Spring and Easter’s nearness. From every dark corner of my life, light is teeming through the cracks of the last year, the longest and darkest Lent of my life. I am tempted to hit the snooze bar, to pretend I cannot see it, but the rhythm of life with a newborn makes blissfully ignorant sleep impossible. Resistance seems to be my default, but even the comfort of denial is breaking down.
I think the heart of my resistance to rising is habitual inertia in the face of change. It is so much easier to just keep doing what I have been doing than it is to do something, anything, differently. Miscarriage, my husband’s unemployment, and death all paved a way into surviving the loss and the wounds. My eyes have adjusted to the dark and I have been there so long it has started to feel normal. The light is blinding and uncomfortable.
These days at home with a new baby create space for silence and stillness I can more easily avoid in the rest of my life. I have to sit still for twenty minutes up to twelve times a day. My attempts at distracting myself are routinely interrupted by little voices and hands. All I have to do these days is wander from one moment into the next. But my body is playing puzzles while my brain obsesses about the dishes sitting undone on the counter. I sit down on the floor to play and feel like I ought to be doing something more important, as if there is such a thing.
Making cookies and buns with my three-year-old exposed another crack last week. I got out the mixer, the flour, and the chocolate chips without thinking about it. And then I realized I hadn’t made buns or cookies since the awful night with the worst news almost a year ago. The awareness made my arms heavy and my eyes fill with tears. The impulse to make the cookies and the buns came from the muscle-memory of seasons before and from somewhere outside of myself. It is time for rising.
Maybe this is what I have not understood before: I cannot bring about the resurrection by the force of my will. I can only receive the rising. It shows up and I can let myself be swept up in it or I can sink into the weight of my resistance.
At two in the morning, cries lift me to my feet and into the rocking chair with a baby in my arms. I miss my sister and the other baby, and this baby is making cooing noises. Death still stings, and this baby is calling me into new life. I close my eyes in the rocking chair while he eats, and wake held by the silence and the soft lamp light. Worrying changes nothing. For this moment, all is well.
Supper needs making, and the big kids arrive home from school with notes, needs, and noise. I feel the swell of overwhelm. Remembering that I can only do one thing at a time, I choose hugs first. There will be an argument and a fit, and neither will be the whole story of the evening. Our family is healing slowly. Even if there is whining, it can be well here.
The job list is never empty. Laundry spills out of the baskets before it gets folded. The counters get cleaned off but the drawers are a disaster. I get one room’s toys put away while the next room is transformed into a pirate ship. Masterpieces are affixed to every door and wall and I make a note buy shares in scotch tape. My resistance takes shapes in a running tally of who is doing the most work (me, obviously). This nasty habit threatens to pull me under until I see the sunlight streaming in the windows and hear laughter from the basement. God is lifting me into a new season, a different place. I am rising in spite of myself. It is so well with my soul.
In this holiest week, we anticipate and celebrate the Jesus who rises, again and again. From the pits and corners of my resistance, He is raising me, if slowly.
The snow is melting, just a little bit every day. I miss it if I do not pay attention. A dump of snow does not change the reality that spring is coming. The rising will, eventually, follow the cross. My resistance slows the rising but cannot stop it, thank God. Every time I relax into the rising, I chip away at my habit of holding onto what was. I want to become a person who rises without resistance, without fear.
This is my prayer of resurrection:
May I crave the light that breaks through the darkness.
May I cling to hope and let go of fear.
And may my resistance be swept away
by the rising work of a God who refuses
to let death have the final word. Amen.