Last Sunday I was in Boston for the Marathon. To say it was incredible would not be sufficient. To say it was spectacular would not be enough. Awe-inspiring it was. Yes, beyond words.
I always want to know the story behind the story. You know, the part that is unseen. We are easily impressed with someone at the top of their game, but what did it take to get there and what were the gifts and trials of the journey?
As I watched the runners, sat with the team at brunch and watched our foundation apartment bustle with kids and adults, I could not help but think of the story behind the story. If Ethan had lived, there would be none of this. If my friend Celie’s daughter had lived, there would be no TEAM FRANNIE (our marathon team name lead by Celie). When I set up the first foundation apartment, I spent the weekend sobbing while putting furniture together and arranging drawers. I went home with swollen eyes. I felt like I had been hit by a truck. The realization that this place would house families because Ethan was not living was more than my heart could bear. Even though I knew it wasn’t possible, that weekend, I begged God to switch it back to the way things were. I also was desperate for resurrection. For good to come from the story.
Death to life.
Death to resurrection
From death comes new life.
The joy of the gatherings, the marathon runners, the families, the apartment, the changed medical care, and the music therapy are part of the resurrection. They are the ricochet of his death. The abundant harvest. Our family was not the harvester. The families after us are. Some days I feel cheated by this fact. I wonder if others know the cost that allows them to be part of the harvest.
And so is life. Death to new life. Seeds planted and harvested. We need planters, and we need harvesters. Sometimes we are one, sometimes the other. Sometimes both.
During his short time here on earth, Ethan planted seeds in our hearts and in our lives. For so long my predominant focus was his death, his suffering, but now, for me, the focus is the harvest.
But getting to resurrection means entering the depths. The deepest darkness. Space no one wants to be. The place where being in our own skin feels wrong. The gestation time of despair. We can’t skip past this part. We all want to. We like to talk about the resurrection, we eagerly post about them and share them. But it’s just not possible without the tomb.
As we celebrated the marathon in apartment #306, the family in #304 was saying goodbye for now to their daughter. Megan died the morning of the marathon. Life down the hall from death. Resurrection adjacent to despair.
It did not seem a coincidence that this is how my Holy Week began. Walking the balance of both life and death. Leaning into one and then the other. Dancing between the two in my heart. Back and forth. And so is life.
As Richard Rohr says, “Jesus is a statement about how reality works all the time...he is the blueprint, map, standard bearer of the death to life rhythm.”
And for me that is Easter. The acknowledgment of the resurrection that comes from death. The hope that new life can come from deep despair. No, it does not mitigate sadness or longing. Quite the opposite, it allows for all of it. Jesus’ death on the cross reminds us that we are not alone in our pain. Easter reminds me that the very thing that can destroy us, that can leave us at the bottom of our lives is indeed the portal to beauty. It’s in this liminal space of gestation where we are invited to grow and transform. There are too many long nights that we think will last forever. But the sun does rise. The harvest does come. Not always the way we want it to. But it arrives.
Holding the space for both. Mourning with the sorrowful, and rejoicing with the joyful, planting the seeds even if we aren’t the harvesters.
My story and your story are microcosms of the greater story we are all living. The stories of birth and death are all around us. The seeds we plant in these times matter. The messy middle is a long dark night. But I’m here to remind you that light creeps in. No, the scars are not gone, the trauma not erased, but we can choose let light shine through it all.
And so this Easter I remind you that:
Resurrection is for you.
Today and every day.
So plant the seeds and harvest the crops.
Mourn and hope.
He is Risen.