Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

Links to the Camino de Santiago pilgrimages are on the navigation links to the right of the web page.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter reflection: Out of grief comes hope

A garden near my home has a gazebo where the posts are made of prickly cactus plants and the roof of thorny bougainvillea. It sits in a garden full of flowers. I call it the Easter garden because, despite the thorns and needles, bountiful, beautiful life surrounds you.

Grief stinks. It's a painful process that has been studied scientifically and yet, at its core, grief remains a traumatic human experience that we cannot elude. Many have learned or are taught that there are seven stages of grief.

- Shock or Disbelief
- Denial
- Anger
- Bargaining
- Guilt
- Depression
- Acceptance and Hope

Some folks consider shock and denial one combined stage, as well as bargaining and guilt. Irrespective of how you define these stages, most people consider the transition between these stages to be highly common and almost necessary to incorporate the concept of death in our lives. When we meet someone how cannot proceed, who seems stuck in a stage, we are stricken by a sad awareness that their grief process has been stalled, and we try to assist them if they're willing to be helped.

The Lenten journey towards Easter is a metaphor for this process. We are shocked on Ash Wednesday in the reminder that to ashes we return. We try to deny it, except it's impossible to ignore the mark of ashes on our foreheads. Our mutual mortality is destined and no amount of reality refusing will wash away such a reality as easily as soap can wash away those ashes.

Throughout this season, in moments of reflection and in the lectionary bible readings, we see examples of all sorts of the other grieving stages. All this culminates on a Good Friday laden with guilt and depression. It is bound to happen and we know the story well.

But Easter, blessed Easter, brings closure to this process. It is not a guarantee of happiness. A friend at church who is grappling with the tortured grief of the death of his young wife reminds me of this reality. It affirmed for me my grief for having lost a brother-in-law and a couple of friends this year: the end of grief isn't happiness, but integration and acceptance.

Easter can be joyful because of the hope it inspires. But it isn't really about joy at its core. We aren't promised a joy. We are promised to be reunited with our Creator. Given that sin is our perpetual distancing from God, such a reunification represents an eternity without sin and a beautiful perfection is in store for us.

It's a joyful event, but joy isn't the promise. Joy is an amazing by-product of the promise. Easter and all the wonderful things we do to celebrate it is about ensuring that we see the ground and ashes ahead, and know that can grow a new life, a new restored hope from such fertile dust.

And with that hope, we become truly alive once again.

No comments :

Post a Comment