Don't gasp, but we didn't go to church this Easter. I think it may be a law that you must attend and Easter Service. But we didn't. Instead we watched a Catholic Easter Mass from the National Basilica. It was incredible! The way they do mass is so reverential and formal and feels appropriate for the remembrance of Christ's resurrection. In most churches I have been to it feels like the pastor knows he has one shot to talk to all the people who only come to church once or twice a year. If I was a pastor I would probably do the same thing. But in the Mass we watched, it was clearly a celebration of Christ's rising from the dead and it wasn't at all evangelistic. In fact Joanne commented that it really was an "insiders" service. If you weren't familiar with the way Mass is conducted you would be utterly lost at the Easter Mass. I wonder if the Catholic Church does a "starter Mass" for those new converts to sort of fill them in on the why and wherefores of Mass?
Anyhow, this was probably the first Sunday in our lives that we weren't at a service for Easter. There are many reasons that we decided not to go. Some of them were probably valid and others were not, but I know for me that I am in the midst of a Dark Night Of the Soul and that I am struggling mightily with my faith. I don't think it's hit me until recently that that's where I am. And the rest of our little family is there too. Joanne struggles, Audrey struggles and Emma, being the age that she is, struggles in her own way. We are all dealing with so many "non-Christian" emotions--anger, fear, sadness, shame...did I mention anger? We are still very much asking the question, "Why did this happen!" The price to pay has been so great!
Now I know in writing this that all those emotions are not "non-Christian." Lots of believers wrestle with these very feelings to one extent or another. In fact I can sit here and think of literally a dozen families that struggle. Maybe not just like we are struggling, but struggling just the same. I think it's central to the human experience. I have often said that no one gets out of this life unscathed and I truly believe that. We all take our shots.
One thing I wrestle with is that Joanne's stroke happened over two years ago but to me it's like it happened yesterday. I am still reliving those minutes and hours right after her stroke on a frequent basis--I have flashbacks and different things can set it off. It can be the spot on I-25 where I got the first call from Audrey that something was wrong with mom to seeing Audrey or Emma's phone numbers come up on my caller ID. I can instantly be transported to a very anxious place. I get a tightness in my chest...
I wonder why this hasn't passed. I wonder if I will feel this way forever.
And what's worse is that I know Joanne is feeling these feeling more deeply than any of the rest of us. It is her life that was taken from her. We had a couple of long talks over the weekend and she is still so very much in mourning from all that's lost. My favorite is that she says she watches advertisements for cleaning products on TV and desperately wishes she could buy a can of Scrubbing Bubbles and go clean a bathroom! She longs for the day when she could wield a bottle of Windex. It is truely the little things that mount up and remind us of what has passed.
So the resurrection. What does that mean to us? Here is the best way I can put it. To me it feels like much of our life was put in a coffin and buried when Joanne had her stroke. Things that were became no more. And that coffin was buried. Now, every once in a while a little something will be resurrected. Maybe we'll experience it on a walk around the Garden of the Gods or a drive up into the mountains. There will be a moment of normalcy or even happiness and it feels like we are stealing a little something back from the grave. And even though it seems unlikely, I am still hoping that one of these days God will choose to resurrect something big! Maybe it will be a restoration of the girl's relationship with Joanne. Maybe it will be a physical ability on Joanne's part. Maybe it will be the rediscovery and ability for Joanne to do something she loves. Who knows what it could be, but I am ready, anticipating those little resurrections. How I wish they would come faster!
Joanne made an interesting comment this weekend. She said, "I wonder what Saturday was like for the disciples?" They lost Jesus to the cross on Friday and then what? I imagine that the grief was punishing but I also wonder if there wasn't some hope against hope that Jesus was really going to come back. All I know is that it must have been an excruciating day. Of course Sunday changed everything for the entire course of human history.
I feel like it is our perpetual Saturday. And I can tell you, we are all waiting expectantly for our metaphorical Sunday to change the course of our family's history!