Easter Reflections: Right Where I Am

Easter Reflections: Right Where I Am recall thoughts penned a year ago from the Arizona desert. The mountains and rugged landscape were speaking, and I could feel my sacred smallness against the backdrop of an ancient universe. When I revisited this post in preparation for fresh thoughts for Easter 2020, I felt a sense of awe.

Here’s why.

Arizona sunset in Queen Creek - Hello Lovely Studio.

This time last year, I was quite ill and still adjusting to life with pancreatic insufficiency. The stream of consciousness Easter reflections I penned traveled through a filter of physical discomfort and anxiety.

Brene Brown inspirational quote about grace on Hello Lovely Studio. #quotes #brenebrown #gracequotes #faithquotes #spirituality #personalgrowth

In 2020, my chronic illness remains, yet I am less fearful about the future. However, like a lot of folks, I feel a new sense of vulnerability with the pandemic crisis. I’m not worried about contracting the virus (mercy, child, I have overcome so many serious viruses!) as much as losing people dear to me.

Scripture verse about prayer on Hello Lovely Studio. #prayer #scriptureverse #scripturequote #faith #christianity #prayers

But First…Here’s a Video I Made

These year old reflections that follow capture the essence of my current reality…thanks for revisiting them.

Photos: Hello Lovely Studio

Scripture verse about prayer on Hello Lovely Studio. #prayer #scriptureverse #scripturequote #faith #christianity #prayers

There’s such earthy grandeur in the Southwest, and you can’t help but feel humble in such soft flesh. How can my thoughts not turn to the Rock of Ages? (This is a snippet of me playing an original arrangement of a classic.)

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.

Hello Lovely Studio - Arizona mountains

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.

Flowering cactus with orange and pink flowers in bloom at Tucson Botanical Garden - Hello Lovely Studio.
Inspirational quote and scripture from Psalm 139 on Hello Lovely Studio.

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!

Desert landscape in bloom with red in Arizona - Hello Lovely Studio.

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.

Trees at Tuscon Botanical Garden - Hello Lovely Studio.

Colossians 3:11 is a sort of lifeline for me lately. “There is only Christ. He is everything and he is in everything.”

Colossians scripture about Christ - inspirational quote on Hello Lovely Studio.
Desert landscape in Arizona with purple and yellow flowers - Hello Lovely Studio.

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.

Scripture from Romans - I loved you at your darkest - inspirational quote on Hello Lovely Studio.

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.

Beautiful heavenly clouds and rainy sky in Arizona - Hello Lovely Studio.

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!

Heavenly clouds and rain in the sky in Arizona - Hello Lovely Studio.
Scripture from Micah 6:8 - inspirational quote about mercy on Hello Lovely Studio.

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.

Stormy skies and clouds in Arizona - Hello Lovely Studio.

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.

Pink Arizona sunset in Queen Creek - Hello Lovely Studio.

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.

Beautiful pink cactus flowers at Tucson Botanical Garden - Hello Lovely Studio.
Scrpture verse from bible in Proverbs - she is more precious than rubies - inspirational quote on Hello Lovely Studio.

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.

Gorgeous desert vegetation and cacti at Tucson Botanical Garden - Hello Lovely Studio.

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.

Scripture from Romans 12 about renewing your mind - inspirational quote on Hello Lovely Studio.

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.

Cacti and desert vegetation at Tucson Botanical Garden - Hello Lovely Studio.
.

There will always be these holy denying forces at work for our good.

Desert landscape in Arizona - Hello Lovely Studio.

But SUCH GREAT STONES NEED NOT KEEP US FROM EMERGING, TRANSFORMING, AND BECOMING WHOLE.

Desert landscape, cactus, and mountains in Tucson - Hello Lovely Studio.

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?

Yellow flowers and desert landscape in Tucson - Hello Lovely Studio.

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.

Cactus in bloom at Tucson Botanical Garden - Hello Lovely Studio.

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?

Scripture from 2 Corinthians about grace - inspirational quote on Hello Lovely Studio.
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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.

Cactus and mountain landscape with yellow flowers in Tucson - Hello Lovely Studio.
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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, stones are 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.

Pink and orange Arizona sunset over mountains - Hello Lovely Studio.

If confusion or unanswered questions color your Saturday, I wish you endurance and strength to keep trusting the middle of this journey.

Pink sunset in Arizona - Hello Lovely Studio.

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.

Inspirational and Christian quote about Jesus on Hello Lovely Studio.
Arizona landscape - Hello Lovely Studio.

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 which I too gaze upon…leaves me breathless.

Biltmore with mountain and pink flowers - Hello Lovely Studio.

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.

Flowers in the Arizona desert - Hello Lovely Studio.

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.

Scripture from Psalm 46 and inspirational quote.

*See what I mean about how these thoughts about obstacles/stones/death resonate today as we long to roll away the burden of the corona virus? I’m thinking of you and praying we will emerge a changed people.

HAPPY EASTER, FRIENDS.

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.

-michele

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24 Comments

  1. April 14, 2019 / 5:31 pm

    Beautiful POST!!!
    Well said.
    d

    • Michele
      Author
      April 15, 2019 / 12:14 am

      Thanks so much. Peace to you. 🙂

  2. Teresa C
    April 15, 2019 / 5:55 am

    Thank you, Michele! I live in northern Arizona…. Sometimes it takes another to point out the outstanding beauty right before one’s eyes like you’ve done today.
    God bless you & wishing you a Happy and holy Easter.
    T

    • Michele
      Author
      April 15, 2019 / 10:48 am

      How wonderful to live in Arizona – it is such a special place where it is easier for me to relax and see beauty. Wishing you peace, tranquility, and eyes to see as He sees. xox

  3. April 15, 2019 / 9:22 am

    You write so beautifully my friend!!! I am thankful for my illness too because it changed me and brought me close to Jesus ❤️ Happy Easter to you and your family!

    • Michele
      Author
      April 15, 2019 / 10:46 am

      Your gratitude radiates from your work and through this screen, Holly. I’m so happy the world has you in it–every part of you–to help us heal and grow. Sending love. xox

  4. Karen H.
    April 15, 2019 / 9:25 am

    Your Holy Week reflections bring tears to my eyes. Beautiful and poignant. Yes Michele, I will pray that your heavy stones are removed. God’s mercies are new each morning, and we know that on Easter morning we can shout “He is risen!” May you have a blessed week.

    • Michele
      Author
      April 15, 2019 / 10:44 am

      Thank you so much for reading – it feels so very vulnerable to write about the mystery of it all and know from the start I won’t get it right. In fact, it’s all discovery since I write not because I know the topic so well, but to discover my thoughts and yearnings. 🙂

  5. Lee
    April 15, 2019 / 1:29 pm

    Glorious Easter! Praying for you ♥

    • Michele
      Author
      April 16, 2019 / 12:29 pm

      Thanks so much for the prayer – peace to you and yours.

  6. Pamela
    April 18, 2019 / 8:19 pm

    Thank you so much for this post. We are moving to Tucson sometime soon. Looking forward to it and a bit worried as we are 60 yrs old and changed doesn’t come as easy as it once did. But such a beautiful place for us to move to

    • Michele
      Author
      April 18, 2019 / 9:42 pm

      I absolutely loved Tucson! I can see myself living there so who knows? Keep me posted on your journey. 🙂

  7. April 21, 2019 / 11:10 am

    Providence had me stumbling upon this thought provoking post of yours this very morning after a long and dreary night of wrestling with uncontrolled MS symptoms. I was lamenting the fact that I wouldn’t have the strength to attend church today to celebrate the resurrection of Christ with music and fellowship when I came across your writing with the poignant photographs and scriptures. Ah, how very lovely – how deeply thought out and how it touched my heart this morning! I feel as though I have communed with another, as though we two can touch each other’s hearts this day and bear each other’s burdens as Christ taught us to. He Is Risen! And I will pray for you and thus try in some little way to bless you as you have blessed me today. Thank you for writing this. I pray that your bolders will be for your good and you will always have others to help you to bear them.

    Warmest regards from Northern AZ,
    M

    • Michele
      Author
      April 21, 2019 / 11:53 am

      What blessing your words and tender heart are to mine today. Thank you, friend. I will pray for your comfort and am so grateful we need not rely on our own strength to roll away stones. Thank you for reading and lifting my gaze on this beautiful Easter day! He is risen indeed!

  8. April 22, 2019 / 2:35 am

    Michele thank you for spreading your grace and beautiful wisdom to the world. Truly there were so many moments here, when I stopped reading and reflected on your words, and even felt moved to tears. Especially your encouragement near the end. Because it got me thinking that these days I am living my life in the darkness of the tomb, in a perennial state of Holy Saturday—in those hours before the awakening, filled with the unanswered questions and the confusion you mentioned. And even though i know the end of the (Easter) story, that there is resurrection following death and I know there will be healing following my devastating loss, I’m not there yet. Sunday has not come into my heart fully. And I noticed it this Easter Sunday, on the day that celebrates His rising that my broken heart felt neither lifted or mended. Instead i feel my heart still left behind in the Garden weeping alongside our lonely Savior. I am under that moon, with Him. Still profoundly sad and missing my son so much it hurts. This is where I am right now and even though I don’t know when I will be through these dark days, I do at least have hope. And maybe that is my Easter miracle this year. This hope that someday it wIll be better. Thank you for this deep, loving post and for being such an inspiring friend. XOXO

    • Michele
      Author
      April 22, 2019 / 9:51 am

      You have brought blessing to my heart this morning, Leslie. Your pain is such a holy thing, and I honor you for being so awake to it as it sears you. You’re showing us how to move through it with dignity and authenticity. What a gift you are to us. In my own life, sometimes all I can do is take a step forward or open my heart space to receive the light. It can feel so unnatural to do so, and I suppose that is exactly how faith necessarily feels: not at all natural, but supernatural or transrational. It doesn’t even matter if we call it faith, and we certainly don’t need to call it religion. But whatever it is, I’m so grateful Jesus is a wisdom Jesus who shows us how to empty ourselves and descend as we fall into God. Wishing you lavish grace and peace today, loving friend. Thanks so much for taking time to read this.

  9. May 1, 2019 / 11:08 am

    I keep trying to write a comment, Michele, but I’m speechless at the beauty of this post and how sweet it was to be swept up in it today. So I will just say thank you for these lovely words and images and for sharing so lovingly from your heart. I’m so glad you shared with us at TFT!

    • Michele
      Author
      May 1, 2019 / 12:06 pm

      That is just the kindest thing to say and a true blessing for me to hear. Thank you for reading these reflections and offering a safe harbor to share them, Pam. xox

  10. Lyn
    April 12, 2020 / 10:47 am

    This is a stunningly beautiful post. It shines with truth, honesty and insight. The other commenters are so eloquent; I will just say “Thank You” for your generous sharing.

    • Michele
      Author
      April 12, 2020 / 2:44 pm

      Thank you for adding to the beauty, Lyn. I’m so thankful to have you here. Peace to you.

  11. April 12, 2020 / 12:50 pm

    Hi Michele
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful soul with us on this Easter Sunday. I’m praying for you my friend that God will put His hand on your shoulder and heal you. You are such a blessing to all of us who follow you. Happy Easter to you and your family!❤️

    • Michele
      Author
      April 12, 2020 / 2:43 pm

      Happy Easter, Holly. Thank you so much. I feel Him working and moving and refining the rough spots, and I am just trying to yield, to receive, and to let it all be done to me. What a good father He is. xox

  12. Kathie Johnson
    April 13, 2020 / 1:24 am

    Unspoken thought and prayer fallen to The Holy Spirit to intercede for us. Sing more, please. Peace be with you dear Michele. 🙏🏻😘

    • Michele
      Author
      April 13, 2020 / 10:18 am

      Thank you, Kathie – may peace and lavish grace be yours. 🙂

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