DYING BEFORE RISING
“Though an army encamp against me,
my heart will not fear;
Though war be waged upon me,
even then will I trust.
The Lord is my light and my salvation.” – Ps. 27
Last year, I went through the missed miscarriage of our first child. It was surreal to be experiencing both life and death within me during Jesus’ Paschal Mystery. This loss, amidst the struggle of multiple life changes and transitions, created a year long spiritual battle to combat fear and overcome an underlying mistrust I had developed with God. No amount of clinging to silver linings or trying to see the glass half full could shield me from the darkness of my own agony in the garden.
I’d fight tooth and nail to keep the doors of my closing heart open. But in my fatigue, how I saw God, others and myself was distorted, creating a seal of untruths. I tried to fight the feelings of resentment on my own, to use what was positive in my life to make healing, success, and new beginnings happen so I could move forward. But, I am human. And, the gifts of consolation and vocational fruition are spiritual in their roots. I cannot make them happen. I can only receive them. But with my arms crossed guarding my heart, how could I?
What was I afraid of? Pain. The kind that blindsides a person who thinks God can bring them through anything but when the pain hits, is reminded that pain really, really hurts and can make them feel so very alone. This was also the root of my mistrust. How could God allow me to feel so much pain, loss, and loneliness?
A turning point came in a January silent retreat where I knew if there was any a time to hash this out with God, it would be there. The unfolding of my arms began with a letter I wrote to our son. A so very honest letter. There as I was pouring my heart onto a page of words, I began my surrender. God’s love and mercy, which was always present, began to tenderly gather me together. Then, the graces poured like rain. Or rather, with an open and raw heart, I could finally receive the rain.
I’ve continued to try and nurture that sacred space of stillness, recognition, and intimacy between God and me in this Lenten season. And as this season is ending, the drama of this Holy Week is just beginning to unfold. There, in Jesus’ journey to the cross, is the fear, the pain, the betrayal, everything gut wrenching that makes us want to turn away and speed forward towards his Resurrection. Perhaps even check out spiritually, seeing Easter as the part we’d like to be present to. But there as well, in the heart of this Paschal Mystery is our companion in the pain, loss, loneliness - Jesus. As I have experienced this past year, there is no rising without first the death. First the darkness. Then the light. First the plunging fall. Then the salvation. The grace has no context without the honesty of the deep need of it.
Dear Father, as Jesus journeys to the cross, draw me in to journey with Him. And with courage and trust, help me to be present to my own path of dying before rising. Amen.