Sunday, April 12, 2009

Where O Death is Now Thy Sting?

I'll start by saying this is not a post about the glory of the resurrection. Therefore, if you are not interested in my honest reflections on Easter Sunday, you may excuse yourself now.

Easter Sunday started out emotional for me. I was sitting here preparing the pork tenderloin for our Easter lunch. Tim was holding me as I was stuffing garlic into little slats of the meat as tears came pouring down my face. It continued as I went upstairs to iron our table cloth and as I headed toward the shower, but I pulled it together. I was excited to go to church. Ready to embrace our church family and celebrate with them.

We sat with two couples and their three little girls who I adore. They were so eager to show off their beautiful Easter dresses and I told them I would take a picture of them all together later (sadly, this isn't going to happen.)

As the gathering space filled, we stood and sang those age old words. "Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia." Tim and I love this song. I even asked him before it started, "Are you ready for it?" I was loving it, getting well into my Al - le -lu - ia!!

And then I saw this line, "Where, O death, is now thy sting?" Tears once again coated my face. That's it? Death is no longer painful? I stopped singing. Quite honestly I stopped functioning. I sat through the New Testament reading, the Gospel reading, and then beelined for the door. When I get to that point of uncontrollable tears, there is really no point in me being there anymore, because I can't hold it together.

I made my way outside to a courtyard, found a bench, and continued to pour my heart into my tissues. I have to be honest, I wasn't entirely interested in celebrating the resurrection this year, because the resurrection doesn't bring Cara back to me now.

I was still on the bench 20 minutes later when Tim found me. I told him my reflections from above. And his response was that the disciples probably felt that way too. They were probably bewildered and unable to understand death and then resurrection. It prompted me to think that they still had to say good-bye to him physically.

I'm just imagining if one of my dearest friends died and then rose from the dead, then I had a small sum of days and I had say good-bye again. I'm sorry, but that would be devastating for me on so many levels. To have lost and grieved, to have found again, and spent time affirming our love, and then to once again say good-bye. I know I'm trying to put in my earthly understanding the experience of the disciples with the divine, but frankly the disciples were just people also.

Last year I clung to the resurrection. Having just buried Cara the day before, it was the only possible response. Church was actually a place of solace from the tears. I was comforted. This year could not have been further from that experience. The "Happy Easter" when said to me felt foreign. I could echo the words back but not with the same gusto.

So perhaps I will spend the next several days focusing on the disciples and trying to understand their reactions, their confusion, and their grief.


Carly Marie said...

Oh Cynthia, If I was there with you I would have taken you outside and just sat with you whilst you got all those tears out.

I have given up trying to understand things. I will never know why these things happen.

My love to you today - I wish I could have been there for you :)


Leslie Parkins said...

I'm not sure if it's because I just read a series of your most recent posts together, but your honest reflections of Easter makes me think you encountered a "thin place" referred to in an earlier entry. Death, resurrection, grief, confusion...the list continues...I can't imagine it all together, but you live with it all together. I never thought about "Oh death where is thy sting" beyond Jesus' brought to light a difficult, complex and overwhelming issue of what his death and resurrection means for the rest of us. I don't know the answers, and I'm thankful you all help me find the questions...I hope we all continue to journey together.