Today, as I write this, is Easter Saturday, that infamous space between the bookends of the death and resurrection. I think about how many times I want to fast forward this part. I think about the fact that I have found religious language to appease my longing to dodge the necessary dying that comes with fully embracing life. I consider the thoughts and words that I use to avoid a sense of ending.
I know I’m not alone in this, often we’ve sung about “conquering” or “beating” death, as though punishing it for making our lives uncontrollable makes it something we can escape.
This Saturday is deep. It’s the space we don’t like to dwell in for too long. We fill this space with anxious encouragements like “only 3 days” and “Sunday’s coming”, perhaps partially because we JUST DON’T LIKE IT. (Nervous laughter.) This doesn’t feel like what victory, in our narrow and finite view, should feel like. Death, that is. So, we sing about “having victory over death” as if death is the problem and in our fantasy of denial, the enemy.
But, once we run out of all of our options to sidestep death, inevitably it comes to us all. Stay with me, this gets better.
See, I did it again. I gave anxious reassurance to fill the inexplicable space within death. Because this is “uncomfortable,” a polite way of saying WHAT THE HOLY HELL IS THIS PLACE?!?
I don’t like this part of life, and I would imagine that most of us don’t. Easter Saturday represents a lonely, cold, no man’s land of sorts, halfway between where we were and wherever it is we’re going. It’s liminal. It lasts however long it’s going to last, in order for us to fully, radically accept it. Here time becomes irrelevant, hours feel like years, and all of our frameworks, neat lines, and certainties can’t help. It’s a language without words, for there are none. Here is a surrender deeper than what we’d be able to articulate. St. John of the Cross called it “the dark night of the soul” — a tunnel of sorts.
Is it sad here? Is it madness? Is it all of the emotions and none? Is it nothingness or everything? Is there a reason for it that goes deeper than the rhetoric we’ve grown accustomed to dishing out for comfort?
Once, a legendary winter felt like it came specifically for me. My friend Melissa found me in it, and gently taught me about the way of trees within their seasons. “Trees don’t fight the fall,” she said. “They surrender. They aren’t anxious about the deep rest that’s coming to them in the winter. Spring will come in due time, but the winter is essential to growth. It’s essential to life.” She told me about the deep surrender and rest that happens underground in the snowy, dark seasons.
As she spoke, I flashed back to watching the trees in my childhood farm yard during the harsh Canadian winters. Stripped bare, it would seem that there was nothing happening. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Were the trees sad? Were they mad that they lost their leaves? But, I would walk close to them and feel their peace, that they were in fact quite fine with their vulnerable state.
To us, it would seem that there is nothing happening in the Liminal Saturdays, the bleak midwinters, the “to” preposition of that “glory to glory” fame.
I’ve read that our cells turn over while we’re sleeping at night, inciting a resurrection of sorts during the daily winter of nightfall. In essence, our bodies regenerate themselves while we are immobile and incapable of doing anything spectacular. It’s comical. We think we’re out there “conquering” the world during the day with our jobs, our beliefs, our hustle while the sun is shining, but our bodies know better. They are partnering with the Great Beyond of miracles, regenerating its functions while we lay in a coma like state for hours at a time when the night comes.
Physiologically, a kind of resurrection happens regardless of us conjuring enough belief in it. It happens without our permission and in spite of our anxious efforts to earn another day on the planet.
This perspective is an awakening of subversive, magnificent proportions to me. While my heart was fast asleep to the miracle happening in me, I was being resurrected.
Awakening is a process. Now more than ever, I trust it. I trust what’s happening behind the curtain of my own making. I trust in the shimmering silence of the secret underground work that happens in winter when it would seem that nothing is happening. I trust in an Awakening that’s deeper, kinder, more trustworthy, inclusive, and benevolent that went through hell to show us how to go through it ourselves, not just escape from it. I trust in a Love that is waking us up, gently, in the cellular structure of our bodies, the emotions and thoughts of our souls, and the divine nature of our spirits.
This is our Awakening. It’s as personal as our sleep habits and as inclusive as every single living thing on this majestic planet.
Here’s to the true soul of humanity, founded and defined by The Christ. Here’s to what was and is happening behind the scenes while we were fast asleep. Here’s to the stark winters, the dark nights, the deep rest, the deeper awareness beneath all of the surfaces, and the Divine Presence that redeems, regenerates, and gives meaning to every moment, through every season of our lives.
Watch the official music video for Amanda Lindsey Cook’s “Awakening”: