What’s real about resurrections? Deeper questions of faith and aimlessness
This is a picture I took outside my airplane window before we started in for landing.
I was struck by the clear climate markers. Mountain ridges. Land masses. Farm land. Lakes. Rivers. All appearing as large or larger than the clouds that we were eye level with.
This was the start of Holy Week, which as I’ve thought about my own faith formation doesn’t crystallize as a series of events so much as just one event. The Resurrection event.
Resurrections are symbols of what comes after death. They tell us of a life cycle that is circular, always moving in and out without stopping.
They tell a story that sets limits to what humans consider themselves capable of, reminding us that not all power is reserved for us.
But I wonder how the symbol has landed on us if Holy Week is not a week, if we believe violence is easily overcome, and if our familiarity has obscured the faith formation being crafted, stretching folks in the moment and long, long after. Connections only seeming obvious with distance and repetition.
My mom told me of a conversation she had with my six year old nephew when he realized how frequently we were going to be in church.
“Grandma, why do we have to tell this story again? We KNOW what happens and how it ends.”
She told me this yesterday as I was seeing her for the first time this week, chuckling over a sentiment that is far from childish or small.
She told me through her smiling eyes that she could appreciate where he was coming from, recognizing something humanizing in his question.
Still again he joined her for church this morning, as he will again this afternoon, evening and tomorrow morning.
He is imbibing a sentiment that his questioning doesn’t take away. One where the length of the story is being added to.
This year I’ve felt most serene at the cemetery in conversation with my departed relatives. I’ve sought to be insulated by a cycle of life that asks me to pay attention longer, and with more focus. I’ve gained a meditative ease that moves through memories one at a time, before braiding them into each other or laying them aside. I’ve been less drawn to resurrection imagery than I am to fuller narratives that remind me why anything is relevant in a moment or within a space.
I’ve let my emotions range widely, and I’ve put myself outside or in a library a lot.
Montana is called the “big sky” state, and as my friend and I were talking we couldn’t conclude a specific reason why. We just knew that the sky felt and looked demonstrably bigger and bluer.
What I gained from that visual reference point was a different symbol for how I’m receiving stories of faith now, and how I’m becoming open like my nephew to repetition and enlargement of spiritual and scriptural markers.
One where my first question is “put this in context” and “zoom out”. One where my ambivalence is linked to the depth attributed or lacking, and my engagement needs my feelings to link me to a whole story told repeatedly.
What is true for me is that what is real is related to what is reoccurring, and what is reoccurring includes prerequisite information to any resurrection or change or life made fuller.
What is true is that there is a depth in our experiences that is often left out of our faith formation, and the more often it is the less we notice, and the more we resent the repetition.
The more we conclude that what has stayed the same is both us and the story, when neither are a whole truth. Neither inform the meaning resurrections carry in our lives or in our faith, and neither show us a sky that feels as though it will always cover us.
This weekend as many gather to give thanks for the gift of resurrection, consider how that may be a story that bores you or feels overtold. Consider what else your faith needs markers and symbols for. Consider what is both steadfast and mutable in your relationship with yourself, and how that influences how you know God.
Consider how you judge or narrow other people’s experiences of God, and the impulses motivating you.
Consider immersion as an antidote for boredom.
Immersed in yourself.
Immersed in the world.
Immersed in deep questions of faith.
Immersed in deep feelings of resurrection,
and every feeling that comes after
as well as before.