Today is Holy Saturday. The Master is dead. Hope is gone. Failures are many. All that’s left is silence and the stench of death in a dark tomb.
I went to the dump today and had to take some cardboard to a special container. The big enclosed metal holder was almost empty and dark. I had to take the pieces of cardboard to the back of the container and when I came out of the dark, smelly thing I thought of Jesus leaving the tomb.
On my way home from the refuse and recycling center, which takes me down a long isolated road, a man signaled me to stop and stated that he needed a “jump-start” to his truck. He had been working since early and had forgotten to turn his lights off. We hooked up the cables, waited a while, tried a few times that didn’t work and finally, his battery was charged with enough power to bring his engine back to life.
I thought of Jesus, the Light of all lights and how he had given all his light to those who would extinguish it.I wondered what happened in the empty tomb. Did God the Father have some sort of spiritual “jumper cables” and shock his Son back to life? Or did he gently breathe new life into him like he did with Adam and Eve in the Garden?
Holy Saturday. A day of disappointment. A day of fear. A day after and a day before.
After several weeks of building an extension onto our porch, yesterday evening it was time to demolish. There was a section which had been built many years ago and needed to be removed so we could match it with the extension. As I began to remove the old, rotten and piecemealed section I wasn’t sure what I’d find underneath. Would there be critters? Would the support beams be rotten? Would it be wet and moldy or dry? To my surprise, the not-so-good-looking porch was nice and sturdy underneath. It was also dry with no water gathered. There should be no problem attaching the new, matching wood.
I spoke with a man today who’s had a rough week. The subject of disappointment came up and we talked about setbacks, struggles, and obstacles on life’s journey. We agreed the path of life will take us through the valley of humility and stresses and pressures can weigh us down making the journey hard. When these times come our surface selves get stripped away. Life has a way of demolishing what’s not solid, sturdy, and revealing what’s underneath.
If there is a strength within, if we can withstand the ripping away of the pieces of ourselves which can’t handle the strain, then we will be able to start again, build anew. Our wisdom, our spirit, our enlightened lives do not come from never facing the chaotic struggles but allowing them to take away what’s not needed and reveal what’s greater within, underneath.
in the Moment –
Yesterday, while watering flowers, a beautiful bright green Dragonfly (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragonfly) landed on the wrist of my left hand. I froze! My first thought was; “Awesome!” My second thought was; “Do Dragonflies bite?” The third was; “This’ll make a great Instagram photo!” I slowly began to walk toward my phone which was about a hundred feet away. I tried not move my arm or scare the insect in any way. Finally, I got to the phone, gently leaned over to pick it up, turned it on, entered the lock screen code and pressed the Instagram icon (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instagram). It opened but at the same time the Dragonfly decided it would leave and fluttered away. “No!” I screamed. “Sigh.” So close.
It was an exasperating reminder that no moment can be taken for granted nor forced to last longer than what is intended. Instead of worrying about taking a picture, sharing the photo for “likes” and “comments” I should have simply enjoyed the Dragonfly sitting on my wrist and the bliss of the unique moment. In wanting to capture it I lost the joy of it happening and felt the corresponding disappointment of the moment fly away, slip through my fingers.
Life can be hard, difficult, painful and full of loss. There are times, seasons, when the chaos of existence seems to strip us of everything we hold dear and we wonder; “Is there a reason to keep going? What’s the point when everything has been taken away?” When all around us has crumbled, our foundations have been shaken and those things which we’ve placed our faith in no longer exist and we come to place where love, grace and miracles are illusion, what do we do?
At this crisis point we are faced with the decision to trust when there doesn’t seem reason, to see blessing when your way is cursed, to expect life as death hovers near. From the rubble of disappointment, disease, defeat, dejection, even death comes a chance at a new beginning, an appreciation for what will emerge after all we value disappears.
We need rain. The ground is parched and a nice drenching would quench it’s thirst. Yesterday, there was an 80% chance the sky would open up and grace the land with water from heaven. I watched several times as the sky grew dark with grey clouds, blocking out the sun, threatening to unleash a torrent only to see the potential dissipate. Not a drop was to fall all day. An 80% chance equaled 0% actuality.
I was talking with someone this week whose having a difficult time with their teenager. This parent, clearly exasperated and their wit’s end, declared to me; “She just wont communicate with me! When we’re together not a word is spoken. I’m not sure she hears a word I say.” I asked the parent; “Do you know that 80% of our communication is body language? Only 20% is words. When she’s not talking she’s still saying a lot. You’ve just got to be able hear her. It takes a different kind of listening to understand what’s being said when no words are given.” The rest of our time together we discussed ways to hear and be heard with someone who isn’t able, ready or willing to talk.
Clouds and a parent. 80% seemed like a certainty when it came to rain. Speaking being only 20% of communicating seemed like never to a parent longing to bond with a child. Percentages, statistics, probabilities can bring false assurance and disappointment. This is why wisdom teaches that we are not to anticipate, generalize or give up when the odds are stacked against us. We enter and exist in every moment with the realization that every opportunity holds possibility and promise.
Yesterday evening, as the sun set and the autumn cool air settled in, I gathered some wood, placed it in the fire pit, started a fire, sat in an Adirondack chair and stared at the stars becoming visible in the quickly darkening sky. I breathed out the hustle and bustle and breathed in relaxation. Silence and beauty, what more could you want after a busy day?
Then, out of the corner or my eye, I spied a bright light. I looked over and let out a frustrated “sigh!” The farmer who owns the land adjacent to ours had come on his big, green, John Deere tractor to rake the hay he cut earlier in the day. “Ugh!” What was a serene, peaceful moment of reflection and relaxation turned quickly into a noisy, dusty, beams of lights in my eyes disappointment.
I understand the days are getting shorter. I know the seasons are changing. I recognize the driver of the big, loud machine would also rather be somewhere else but this knowledge still didn’t stop me from being annoyed. As I sat there stewing a few questions came to my mind and spirit; “Is the fire no longer beautiful? Are the stars any less in number? Did the fall breeze cease?” Of course the answers to each of these were; “no.”
In life few things are, or stay, our definition of perfection. Wisdom teaches us that acceptance and embrace of change, disruption, the passing of “perfect” moments is vital to peace of mind and spirit. Being able to adapt, finding the gift, and the good, even in moments of frustration and disappointment is needed and necessary.