I looked back at words penned a year ago and noted I am once again reflecting on Easter’s holy days from the Arizona desert. It’s here where mountains and rugged landscape speak, and I feel my smallness against the backdrop of an ancient universe. There’s such earthy grandeur here, and one feels both reverent and humble in such soft flesh.
Easter Reflections 2019: Right Where I Am finds me in the presence of mountainous majesty. So how could my thoughts not turn to the Rock of Ages?
The Easter story’s hope and wisdom stir my heart, and I can’t help but reflect upon the Law of Three. Easter’s divine suffering-death-resurrection template seems to spring from everywhere. No matter which direction I direct my gaze: nature, human development, health, art, relationships, science, physics, politics, astronomy, or the spiritual journey…the template emerges.
One of my spiritual teachers, Cynthia Bourgeault brilliantly translates the Law of Three and introduced language to me such as “holy affirming,” “holy denying,” and “holy reconciling.” Such vocabulary is so helpful for easing communication of mystical matters. And Easter for me is more of a mystical, experiential matter than a historical event or tradition.
For me, the Easter story points to a holy affirming force (the love of Jesus Christ), a holy denying force (hatred and crucifixion), and a reconciling force (self-emptying). In fact, these forces create Easter’s fourth force: restoration, ascension, and the kingdom of heaven!
Ethereal, lofty, mystically rich ideas about spiritual forces might simply remain aerie concepts were they not so meaningful for me in daily life this very moment. My flesh is considerably weaker than a year ago, my capacity is low, and my spiritual depravity runs deep and wide. On this particular day, I am leaning on the Great Rock and so thankful for the Mystery.
Colossians 3:11 is a sort of lifeline for me lately. “There is only Christ. He is everything and he is in everything.”
If the question when will girlfriend get it together already has occurred to you, I hear you. I’m forever under construction and don’t expect to arrive. I keep getting it wrong. My foot slips all the time. Still I move forward in faith.
I’m learning in the second half of life to stop rushing. Each day involves a number of tasks, and another spiritual teacher of mine, Richard Rohr, helps me to appreciate the significance of the “task within the task” of everything I do. Even if it is simply sweeping the floor, the subtle life energy of Love held within my being can infuse the chore with something beautiful or miraculous. A new thing may be even be created.
An example from my daily life is how I cook dinner almost every night and am convinced there is something very real and true about ‘cooking with love.’ The task within the task of sweeping or preparing a meal is everything! Seeing Christ in every task is everything! Meeting Christ in every task is everything!
Working within stillness or slowing down in my work does not often feel ‘natural.’ There are other forces operating in daily life, distracting, influencing, and stirring me. Learning and relearning to work intentionally with such forces is necessary.
For me, spiritual practices such as meditation, centering prayer, solitude, and silence are helpful. I can comprehend “acting in more self-less ways” or “loving my neighbor” at a cognitive level, yet sheer willpower and personal resources alone seem insufficient. I need the Christ; His sweetness, His mercy, and His reconciling love transforming everything.
I want to align with the sort of energy that renews, restores, and revitalizes. Where that free flow of eros life energy flows, let me be caught up in it! Where does that desire even come from? Maybe the many failures and sufferings along the way.
Chronic illness, for example, has been a gift in terms of the stillness it has brought to my life (often everything else must be put on hold) and how it reminds me of my frailty and limited time on earth.
Henri Nouwen has said that “every time we enter into solitude, we withdraw from our windy, earthquaking, fiery lives and open ourselves to the great encounter.” Oh, how true and how grateful I am that the great encounter has room for little me.
My setbacks, struggles, and sorrow seem to clear a pathway of time for God. Here’s the mysterious part: when first they appear, those curses resemble a great stone blocking the tomb in the Easter story. They look and feel so much like death that I have come to realize THEY ARE IN FACT DEATH.
There will always be these holy denying forces at work for our good.
But SUCH GREAT STONES NEED NOT KEEP US FROM EMERGING, TRANSFORMING, AND BECOMING WHOLE.
Perhaps questions hang in the air for you like they so often do for me. How can such enormous stones possibly be rolled away? How can healing come from brokenness? How can the darkness be pierced?
Surely a part of the answer hides within this holy season of Easter which has taught me death is not the final word as much as it is a pathway and a stage of growth.
Do we bury seeds in the dark ground as a mournful act or a hopeful one? Does the shoot pushing through the earth not illumine for us the direction we are all headed? Did the waiting period of that silent Saturday following the crucifixion last forever, or did it bloom into Sunday’s glory?
If there is anything I keep relearning from Jesus’ teaching and the beatitudes, it’s that living in the spiritual realm is living in an upside down kingdom with pathways of descent.
Rolling stones away from the tomb surely requires working with forces. I covet more and more Grace for such work since I am full of flaws and shortcomings. As much as I desire purity of heart so Source may move through me, I keep straining to roll away those stones on my own. In case you are wondering, they’re too damn heavy and don’t friggin budge, friend. Pray for me, if you pray. I ask for this humbly because I need it. It matters.
Should you feel the sting of death’s Friday, right where you are, I wish you freedom from fear since this is simply the beginning of the story.
If confusion or unanswered questions color your Saturday, I wish you endurance and strength to keep trusting the middle of this journey.
Sunday is coming for you with its riches and light, and it’s not foolish or weak to empty yourself, put on a new mind even now, and anticipate the healing to come.
You already know the moon is never far from my mind. One of the most powerful images for me in my spiritual life is Christ weeping in the garden of Gethsemane. This thought that His tears flowed under THE VERY SAME moon I gaze upon leaves me breathless.
So I look to the moon as a nightly reminder that transformation is possible and is often preceded by tears. When I bring my cares, my gifts, my curses, and my blessings to the garden, I can greet the Mystery and the Great Paradox there with a humble Hello, Lovely.
And when I venture to the cross where sorrow and love flowed, it is there I find a path to somehow become the healing I seek.
If you’re in the mood for more personal reflections…see these.
Sealing this with all the love in my heart and wishing…
Peace to you right where you are.
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