“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18, New International Version)
Despite the promise and the pageantry of Easter (at least in pre-COVID times), for many it is difficult to believe that LIFE will arise. The ravages of the pandemic have been too great and have persisted too long; the economic outlook is too uncertain, and political and social climates are too toxic. The pain and chaos in the world, especially as experienced by its most vulnerable inhabitants, is too heartbreaking.
Perhaps the darkness is something more personal like the deterioration of a significant relationship, whether that is chronically over time or crushed in one fell swoop based on some shocking revelation. Whatever the situation, for many people, including Christians, Easter resurrection is too much of a stretch. Hope is not sustainable.
I understand that feeling, and I expect many of you do, too.
Richard Rohr’s meditation sent Easter morning included these lines: “I like to think of the resurrection as God’s way of telling us that God can take the worse thing in the world – the killing of the God-Human Jesus – and change it into the best thing: the redemption of the world.” Rohr continued, “To believe that Jesus was raised from the dead is actually not a leap of faith. Resurrection and renewal are, in fact, the universal and observable pattern of everything. We might just as well use non-religious terms like ‘spring,’ ‘regeneration,’ ‘healing,’ ‘forgiveness,’ ‘life cycles,’ ‘darkness,’ and ‘light.’ If incarnation is real, if material creation is inspirited, then resurrection in multitudinous forms is to be fully expected.”
Expecting resurrection? It is a great theological concept and one to which Christians give at least intellectual assent. But experiencing resurrected LIFE on a personal basis? For many of us, the night remains too dark, even on a bright Easter morn.
Although this morning I woke more comforted than I have felt in many days, I shunned any organized Easter religious service, whether in person or online. I needed something cleaner, purer, more natural, less strategized, and much more personal. As is my frequent practice, I took my heart to the place where I most experience a renewing God: the crest of Ganier Ridge located in a beautiful Tennessee wildlife area.
Ganier is the natural temple for my MamaGod, although She is not confined there by any means. A critical part of my spiritual journey the last almost 30 years has been to heal my view of a masculine God. The pain at the hands of men, both historical and current, is too deep for a male God to be comforting. Instead, I have an incredible MamaGod who is my constant companion. She is nurturing, strong, wise, loving, and kind. She has the soft touch of a mother’s fingertips and the fiery fist of a warrior.
During the last year I’ve also come to cherish my spirit guides and winged friends, which appear to me regularly in the form of hawks. Their visitations and consolations are truly remarkable, and I’ve chronicled them almost daily since early last summer. My hawks are MamaGod incarnate; they affirm or challenge or instruct or comfort or encourage. They offer God-with-skin-on-evidence that I am not alone. Often I beg MamaGod to bring a hawk into my vision, and when I really, really, REALLY need it, without fail one appears.
Easter morning, from my resting place on Ganier Ridge where I always stop to listen to MamaGod and usually to write down what She tells me, I recorded this experience:
Lying on my bench #39, I absorb the richness of the consolation here: the hot sun on the right side of my face, the sounds of birds singing and squirrels rustling in the woods, the still-slightly-damp smell from the puddles remaining from last weekend’s torrential rains, the hard strong planks beneath my body that support and sustain me.
“And I breathe:
IN – inhaling steadiness, serenity, even joy
OUT – exhaling stress, fear, shame, and control
Over and over I repeat the cadence, in and out, slowly with eyes tightly shut and arms spread-eagled from my sides.
Then I hear the un-mistakeable call of a hawk and open my eyes. MamaGod is skimming the tops of the trees above me in a soft circle that seems so slow I wonder how she stays in flight.
HOLY WOW! Easter, indeed!
I pray that if you find it hard to believe in resurrection, a loving MamaGod will visit you, too.
Marnie C. Ferree