On Good Friday (almost three weeks ago, now) I began rereading Nora Gallagher’s Practicing Resurrection: A Memoir of Work, Doubt, Discernment, and Moments of Grace. It was a book that spoke to me several years ago, as the pen marks attest. Winding my way through the book this second time, I’ve been struck more profoundly by the theme that resurrection is action in which we participate, and action that graces our lives through restored relationships, new understanding and open eyes, and healed hearts.
I had just started back into the book when, on Easter Sunday the priest at St. Paul’s Anglican Church built his sermon on the story of the empty tomb (Mark 18). He emphasized that we must each make Jesus’ Resurrection personal. We must find meaning in it for ourselves. We must each experience and know Resurrection in our hearts and then reflect it in our lives.
My limited French hindered me from following the entire sermon. But God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or some combination, spoke into my heart, “Small resurrections. There are many small resurrections in a life. You’ve known a few.”
A friend once reminded me, during a very dark time, “We could not have had the Resurrection without the tomb” (Resurrection with a capital R). Yes, I have known many resurrections (resurrection with a lower case r)—resurrection from despair, from anguish, from loss, from crushing fear.
I used to think resurrection was something only God did. But I’m beginning to see that resurrection is something we can practice, as Gallagher’s book title claims. Lazarus comes to mind. He was dead for four days when Jesus called him back to life. Jesus had the power to restore Lazarus to life; but Lazarus had to choose to stand up and walk out of the tomb.
In these last couple of weeks, as I’ve tried to be open to small, current resurrections, I’ve actually witnessed a few. My heart has softened toward an acquaintance and allowed me to see this person with kinder eyes. I recognized an answer to prayer to which I had previously been blind. The cosmos, nasturtiums, and basil seeds that I planted on Easter Sunday are sprouting.