Midweek Faith Lift
“I Am the Resurrection and the Life”-Station 14
Rev. Deb Hill-Davis
I Am Dying
….I do not feel betrayed or bereft
it’s more like the Chattanooga Choo Choo
the great traffic of evolution
and I am carrying a bit of being
free of agenda—
open to a future
Ready to experiment, be creative, serve
be beautiful, be real,
be no one I already know
be birthing myself backpacking in the hereafter
from Backpacking in the Hereafter: Poems by M.C. Richards (Asheville, North Carolina: Black College Museum and Arts Center, 2014) 31f, Julia Conner, ed.
This poem opens the chapter for Station 14- “I Am the Resurrection and the Life” which is a statement of the Cosmic Christ made by Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus who has been dead 4 days. Last week our discussion was about the qualitative difference between resuscitation and resurrection, including how to find our power even in the midst of having no electricity for days and days, some of us weeks even! How do we face and embrace change, change that we did not initiate? Because most change does not happen in an instant! And when it seems to come in a flash, like the COVID-19 pandemic, and the derecho, it really catches us off guard, by surprise and unprepared!
This week our journey is about living with death in the midst of life; how do we do that? Now that we are aware of the Cosmic Christ energy of Resurrection, of Transformation what do we do? How do we navigate the process of change with ease and grace? How do we embrace life in the midst of death all around us? Because for sure, we are seeing that in the numbers of Covid deaths in our state, in our nation and around the globe; we are living in the midst of dying. How is there Life in the midst of all that is letting go?
The first thing is to be assured that while the death of the old order is a messy process, there is life in the midst of it all. Whether it is the death of a marriage, the death of white privilege or the death of our illusion of total independence and freedom from one another, there is life in the midst of it all. All our institutions appear to be dying to the old way-education, health care, business, law enforcement and the legal system, social services and our willingness to care for one another in the most simple ways—all of it seems to be unraveling. When it seems that all is lost, and when in fact, after the derecho, for some folks, all was lost, there is still life in the midst of all of it. That is the message of Jesus as the Cosmic Christ. It shows up in the story of Lazarus, which is in the mystical gospel of John.
Jesus the Resurrection and the Life
17 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him... 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”
This passage is a powerful message to us of the energy of Life, of the ongoing nature of Life that is embodied in Jesus as the Cosmic Christ. It is this Cosmic Christ Life that is coming into the world, and it transforms us. Jesus goes on to call forth the life in Lazarus, to affirm life, even in the midst of death which brings great joy to all. And that is what we are also charged to do! To affirm life, even in the midst of the unending challenges we now face. It is neither quick nor easy to do this. It is not like flipping the switch and the power comes back on, not at all.
Friends, we are in the process of finding and making new switches that reach deeper into our hearts, deeper into our consciousness as we birth a new reality on many fronts! It is not an easy time, especially if you feel a longing for how it used to be, because it is not ever going to be like that again, much as we might want that to happen.
No, this resurrection experience is asking us to build capacity, our capacity to live life more fully and expansively. We are being asked to let go of fear of death, of the limiting nature of fear and all the constriction it brings us. When Jesus says, “I am the Resurrection and the Life” he is affirming that this is not some future event, but the reality right here and right now. There is no future life, there is only this life, the one we are in right now which is part of an eternal flow of life energy. How do we accept and lean into that powerful truth? We do so with the energy of the Cosmic Christ that powers us to live into and bring about a new reality!
This week, I read from a blog called:
“When Savoring a Pleasant Moment Is a Radical Act”
--by Ari Honarvar, syndicated from Yes Magazine, Aug 16, 2020
and I want to share it with you here:
Psychologist and trauma expert Peter Levine says joy is an experience of expansion, whereas fear is one of deep contraction. Cultivating joy is an important component of resilience as it increases our capacity to face difficulties. “Imagine if every time you stretched a rubber band, it would become more resilient, so rather than wearing out, it would increase its capacity, able to take more stretches without breaking,” … “The more we increase this capacity, the less overwhelming emotions will be,” Levine says. For instance, trauma stretches us beyond our capacity to deal with a certain challenging situation, and we become overwhelmed with sensations and emotions. The problem isn’t that the sensations and emotions are too strong but that our capacity to hold and process them is maxed out. When we continue to cultivate joy, we gain the ability to feel the overwhelm without becoming overwhelmed ourselves.
Spiritually we are talking about Life in the midst of chaos and death, deep transformational change. Psychologically we are talking about enlarging our capacity to hold our fears and other difficult emotions. Both the spiritual and psychological journey offers the same path and that is to cultivate a capacity for joy. And during this pandemic, it is of critical importance that we increase both the depth and breadth of our capacity for joy so that we are able to “feel the overwhelm without becoming overwhelmed ourselves.”
It is interesting that in the story of Lazarus, Jesus calls forth the life that is within the death experience and Lazarus is returned to life, meaning he is returned to our sight, to our experience and our awareness. Part of the meaning of death is the reference to that which is concealed or cut off. When someone we love no longer is speaking to us whether we cut them off or vice versa, it feels like a death. Moral death as we seem to be experiencing right now in society, the deaths from Covid and the fear about finding a path through all this is the same energy; the energy of constriction. But the energy of the Cosmic Christ calls forth the new life in each and every situation, and that is what we are called to do as well. We call forth joy, remembering the words of Jesus, “ I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:11 His message to us is one of joy even in the midst of death, loss, sadness and change, unwelcome change.
How do we find this joy? Right now, I believe we seek and find joy in the mundane, in the smallest possible moments, the littlest things. We find joy in the lights coming back on and the electricity being restored. We found delight and joy last Sunday in just sitting outside together under the redbud tree and eating ice cream on a stick and sharing our storm stories! We need, as Martha Creek said, to find one thing that makes your tail wag every day. We have to keep going when we don’t want to do that. We find joy in each other, in each life saved, in each small triumph so that one builds on another and our joy is complete.
As Matthew Fox says,
“I have to refuse to participate in my own oppression. I need to learn forgiveness, let go, and move on. I must give birth, I must create, put myself out there, be a mother, a carrier of new life. I have to listen to the voice that says, “Be Resurrection.” …. Break out. Stand up. Give birth. Get out of easy pessimism and lazy cynicism. P. 138, Sixteen Stations of the Cosmic Christ
That is so true! Right now drowning in pessimism and feeding cynicism is sitting in the cheap seats, and not where we are meant to be. A lot has been asked of us, which is ok because we keep saying yes to Resurrected life. This week, when a lot had been going very wrong in the planning of our fall online Great Lakes Region Conference, I sat down and wrote a rap about how and why we should all go to Conference online this year. It made me laugh to write it and then the whole team just giggled and giggled when they heard it! And suddenly, we were all laughing with open hearts and pure joy! How about you, where are you sitting?
Blessings on the Path,