Saturday, April 30, 2011

Rise Again, and Again, and Again

And I’ll rise again.
Ain’t no power on earth can tie Me down.
Yes, I’ll rise again.
Death can’t keep Me in the ground.

"Rise Again," a traditional Spiritual

It occurred to me, sitting and listening to Good Friday unfold this year amongst my friends, that what we celebrate is something of a funeral. This seems obvious, but it's not until you have experienced death first-hand, and considered what it means to rise from the depth of that sadness--or watch a child go through this. When my uncle died I watched his daughter go through a significant change in her life, watched it sap her energy and addle her mind, never mind my own.

It's hard to relate if you feel wrapped up in the death of things--the potential "funerals" we can experience each day, be that of loved ones or of things ended, like relationships, jobs, dreams. Those things we cling to can feel much more important than what the big picture of life's meaning can offer us.

As our choir director sang this spiritual for Triduum this past week, I felt reminded that there is hope in a vision of life beyond the cold earth into which we go--Easter's power for those who believe is the pathos of this hope. We feel the power of something we believe but cannot see.

And that's true faith.

I could finish here, but felt the lesson continue this week as I listened to the reading at the royal wedding--one I've felt inspired by in times past, one which fills in the gaps of blind faith. In the passage from Romans 12, I pause and consider: "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." I've tried all my life to be who I believe God meant me to be, and sometimes that's tricky (since sometimes my ego gets in the way for sure), but when I do it right, I do feel transformed, renewed. To give yourself spiritually there are so many patterns to break; it's too easy to conform, unless one of the gifts God has given you is discernment of what's easy and instant versus what's often hard but ultimately rewarding on a different level than what the everyday can demand of our attention.

Then, "We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully." In teaching and writing I've found the outlet for this mandate, and since I was young this was all I wanted: the ability to reach out to others, nurture emotionally or spiritually. Everyone has a different calling--ultimately the message is DO SOMETHING which enriches others, renews them, and in turn, be renewed. That's the ultimate makeover--transforming the spirit beyond the self yet for the self. Not selfish, but cyclical, and something to help us make sense of those dark hours in our lives when we do make that proverbial leap of faith.

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