Life is all about dying and rising.
We get up in the morning, exert ourselves and live-laugh-love and then fall into bed depleted. And we die, in a way. We lose track of the outside world, sleep like the dead (at least I do) and if we don't sleep well we're described as "the walking dead." There's a reason for that, we were only "mostly dead" in the silent dark of night.
Or like my daughter we wake up singing on occasion - that's a holy moment. It means she's rising, resurrected, new and hopeful.
Ronald Rolheiser in his book The Holy Longing talks about our lives going through a cycle :
CRUCIFIXION then RESURRECTION then ASCENSION
As we walk, live, and breathe over the years there are things that die - they are crucified :
Our dream of perfect reality is gone after chemotherapy. The marriage isn't as perfect as we once thought, because things are changing. You can't harness and control them any more than you can hold the wind in your palm.
Our dream of never losing our competence, significance, or place in the world ebbs away as we get older. The business fails, the decisions don't pan out, the bank forecloses.
Our ability to speak quickly and be the one in the room with the untapped potential.
Our bodies ability to take abuse, recover, and keep going. We see that metabolism has packed it's bags and moved out, so that donut is with us for far longer than it used to be.
To be sure, crucifixion is painful. If we live long enough, we'll feel it. It's a tension we have to embrace, we have to pray and sweat in the Garden knowing this may be a long and draining process. But...
Then, slowly, we are resurrected - we come back to life.
We find a new goodness in reality.
We find we are competent in different things - maybe they aren't as sexy as before, but they're helpful and necessary.
We find the slowing of our bodies also slows our minds, we're more gracious and forgiving. We're able to value simplicity, grace, and beauty where we couldn't see it before.
But we can't pretend that things are the same - we move to ascension.
Jesus after He rises from the dead encounters a grieving Mary who wants to hold on to Him, keep Him in that moment but he says to her:
"Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father." (John 20:17, NRSV)
"Yes I'm alive. But I'm not the same. Things have changed, and to go back now is impossible."
The ascension part is the hardest for us - accepting that we have been given a new way of being in the world but that new way requires we move on. We quit living in the past. We embrace who it is that we are becoming, gift by gift from the gracious hand of God.
I'm not as fast as I used to be.
I'm no longer the young guy in the room.
I don't always have the quick and energetic answer.
But I pray I'm rising to new wisdom. I pray my slowing down allows me to see things clearly, more clearly every day. I pray that this resurrection helps me understand how to father, love, and interact with the world.
More than all that, I pray that I can ascend - let go of returning to the things that used to be true and move forward knowing a God who has seen and left the grave is calling me forward. Forward. Forward.
The only way we live in the joy of Jesus' way is to embrace this cycle. Every time it comes around.
What is being "crucified" in you today?
What kind of life are you being "raised" into?
How is the process of "ascension" - leaving old things behind - coming along?