Grieve.

How do we walk with the Lord on His journey? Especially in this year of so much change and uncertainty. Surrender. Endure. Grieve. Resurrect.

Day #3: Grieve  

Listen. This step is the hardest one of all.

Grieving is worse than enduring. When we endure, it is happening, and we put one foot in front of the other and try to stay in our skin. When we grieve, it has already happened and we are left to count the things we have lost. This is the reckoning.

Past the initial stages, grief becomes more intangible, and we think we can push it away. And we can push it, but not away. Twenty years later, that grief will knock on the door and demand to be heard.

Men especially struggle with this because since forever, it has not been ok for men to cry or admit they are sad. Both of these looked like weakness, and God forbid a man appear weak.

Today, there’s more awareness in the world that when we are weak—when we sit inside our grief and heal from it—we are strong. But not enough. We are still learning that lesson in reaction, instead of proactively teaching it to our kids.

Which brings me to the Apostles.

We’re not wholly sure where they spent the second day. John tells us that once Mary Magdalene found the empty tomb on Sunday morning, she ran to tell Peter, and that he and “the other disciples” went to the tomb (20:3). It’s safe to assume they were together, as they had been for three years, but we don’t know for sure.

What we do know is what they were doing: nothing, because it was the Sabbath.

In the Church we say they were “waiting”, and we liken it to our waiting here on earth for what comes next.

But I think it’s no mistake that God made them sit in their grief. No escape. No excuses. Just sit in the grief and feel it.

We have to do this too. We have to. And not just for death. For the lost graduations, weddings, trips of a lifetime, jobs, homes, sports seasons, church community—everything we lost in the last year. All the traumas in our lives. We have to surrender, we have to endure and then we have to grieve what was lost. We have to reckon the cost.

I hear a lot of talk about resilience, most of it in a “suck it up”” kind of way. But true resilience is the result of walking ALL the steps. True resilience is the provenance of the fully healed.

And there is no healing without grief.

Endure

How do we walk with the Lord on His journey, especially in this year of so much change and uncertainty. Surrender. Endure. Grieve. Resurrect. That’s how.

Day #2: Endure

Two weeks ago, I read the part of Mary for a Stations of the Cross written from her perspective.

I didn’t like it. The poetry is beautiful and heart-wrenching. Each station ends with Mary accepting what is happening in silence: I watched, silently. I cried, silently. I walked, silently.

It confronted me powerfully, as a mother. It forced me to think through the reasons why Mary, Mother of God, whose strong, brave voice raised in obedience is what started this whole ball rolling, would be relegated to silence through the passion and death of her son.

I wanted her to rage—against Pilate, against Herod, against the priests of her own faith who were killing her son. I wanted the women of Jerusalem to rise up behind her, raise their hands and voices to heaven and call down the archangels to smite them all.

This is why women like me don’t get picked for these kinds of jobs.

Fine. But why, then. And what can we learn from it?

I knew this had to be.

This line is also in each station. An acknowledgment that even though Mary didn’t know or fully understand what was coming, she believed that something was coming. She believed it more strongly than the Apostles, more strongly than anyone. She had surrendered to his plan. God had promised his people a savior. Gabriel said that her baby was the Son of God and would assume the throne of David and His kingdom would never end.  She knew, as she followed her broken and bleeding son through the streets of Jerusalem, that this was not that. And though she grieved for her son in his pain and suffering, her faith never waivered.

She endured.

And that my friends, is what we should learn from her. Resilience founded in faith, that God is always with us and we can do hard things. She didn’t turn away. She stayed in her skin. She witnessed his pain and death, she lived her own agony as he suffered and still, she endured.

If she attacked the soldiers, if she crumbled into a broken shell in the corner, or someone tried to shield her, she would have missed it. And the thing is, it would have happened anyway. There was no way to avoid it. Only delay the terrible reckoning: this thing happened. She chose to be present because she believed in God’s plan.

It had to be endured.

The same is true for us. The sorrows in our lives cannot be ignored, unwitnessed, unacknowledged, shielded from us. They will happen anyway. And our attempts to deny or flee them doesn’t save us from the reckoning, only delays it. They must be endured. The only way out is through. Like Jesus, who endured it all for us, like Mary his Mother who endured it for him and, by the grace of God, we too are strong enough to endure. 

Surrender

How do we walk with the Lord on His journey? Especially in this year of so much change and uncertainty. Surrender. Endure. Grieve. Resurrect. That’s how.

Day #1: Surrender

Can I introduce my sister, Denell?

Just to clarify, because after watching her video, it’s possible you might think we are actual sisters. We’re not. But like attracts like and Denell exploded into my life on a retreat in 2016.

She is the owner/creator of Coffee As You Are, a Catholic online community. Just recently she quit her day job to dive into spiritual coaching full time–so recently that her website coffeeasyouare.com, is still being rebuilt. But you can find her on Facebook and Instagram (@coffeeasyouare).

We asked her to guest for us during Holy Week because, in her own words, she “LOVES Holy Week!” She’s a Catholic convert, and converts come into the church at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday–so Holy Week takes on another meaning for them. But I’ll let her tell you:

Spy Wednesday: When a Duck is not a Duck

Today is Holy Wednesday, or Spy Wednesday in older traditions. This is of course a reference to Judas Iscariot, who makes his deal with the scribes and elders to turn Jesus over for 30 pieces of silver.

It is also the day when Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus, anointed Jesus with expensive oil, prompting the disciples to question whether the oil could have been sold to feed the poor. John is the only Gospel that names Judas as the one who asks the question (12:5), and also notes that Judas asks not out of real concern, but because he carried the purse for the Apostles and embezzled from it.

Jesus knew Judas’ game from the get-go. John 6 tells us that Jesus knew there was a betrayer among the 12, and who it was. He was not fooled by Judas’ display of “concern”.

But here’s an interesting piece to add–In Matthew’s version of the anointing in Bethany, he tells us “When thedisciples saw this (the anointing) they grew indignant, protesting: What is the point of such extravagance? This could have been sold for a good price and the money given to the poor” (8-9). Mark says “There were some who were indignant. “Why has there been this waste of perfumed oil?  It could have been sold for more than three hundred days’ wages and the money given to the poor” (14:4-5). Seems odd that the disciples–as opposed to the Apostles, the Twelve–would have ever questioned Jesus in his presence. Unless–they were led by one of the Apostles. Judas, sowing seeds of discord.

Theologians have spent centuries debating Judas’ role in what happened to Jesus. Their opinions are widely available. But I always see Judas as a cautionary tale about whom we trust with authority, because Judas looked like a duck, walked like a duck and quacked like a duck for three years before he betrayed Jesus–but he was not a duck.

How disheartened Jesus must have been, so near to his death, to know that his followers still had not heard him. To know they could be so easily turned by one with bad intentions.

We too have been turned, at some point and place. We have allowed a Judas to harden our hearts, instead of reaching for patience and surrender and trust.

So today–in preparation for the days to come–let’s pray about the ways our hearts are hard, and how they got that way. Who is Judas in our life? And how can we limit our exposure to those who sow seeds of discord?

Tomorrow: Guest Vlog by Denell Woller of Coffee As You Are on Surrender, the first step on Jesus’ walk to our Salvation.

Revival

It’s Holy Week and I have this whole thing cooked up in my brain about how THIS Easter in THIS year is going to be the one that brings Revival.

Hear me out.

On the macro, Jesus came here to save us by becoming our sin on the Cross and defeating death.

But also, you know my great belief, influenced by Father Richard Rohr, that the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Christ are also a roadmap for walking the traumas and dramas of our own lives.

In a nutshell, the bad stuff cannot be avoided because it is impossible to live a trouble-free life. Bad things happen. And also we suck at handling bad things as a people in general, because we don’t like pain or accountability or sacrifice or shame or guilt or sickness or death. So we duck and dodge the bad stuff in our lives, or we set up shop there and never leave, and neither of those options makes for happy healthy humans.

The micro of the passion death and resurrection of Jesus is a road map of how to walk bad stuff: straight through, sisters, eyes and ears open. What has to be done, has to be done. The divorce. The job loss. The cancer. The grieving. The aging. The sobering up. The truth-telling. Have to shoulder the cross and walk it. Have to hang there and suffer. Have to die to what came before. Have to. Otherwise there is no resurrection.

When was the last time the world suffered together? World War 2? Long enough that we forgot the lessons. Long enough that we fought it every step of the way and what did we learn? We’re still here, laying in the tomb, waiting on Sunday.

This week, we want to talk about the Resurrection–the one that saved the world and the one we’re going to experience in the coming months. We didn’t live through COVID to go back to the way things were. We died to that life in March of 2020. If we try for that life again, we’re just coming out of the tomb and climbing back onto the cross.

Think of all the things the Resurrection did for us–how it saved us, freed us, changed everything. Two thousand years later, we are an Easter people.

Now ask yourself–how will you be coming out of COVID saved, freed, changed? How will Easter live in your life?