‘All things pass’ said Teresa of Avila.
This too will pass.
There are three ways in which we can emerge. We have some measure of control over the first way (but not a lot) but we have a bigger measure of control over the second two possible outcomes and that is why I’m writing this post. I want to ‘land’ on the third way and recommend it to all of us. But before we get there, a warning: no one wants to think about the first way.
Let me put it as gently as I can. Whether we expected to or not, whether we ‘earned it’ or not, we might just ‘fall asleep’ and wake up in the arms of the Loving God who gave us life in the first place. In other words, we might die. Not many of us will (3% of those who contract the virus) but nevertheless some of us will and I write as one who stands a very high chance of losing someone precious to me as I know many who are vulnerable so I don’t mean in any way to be blase or callous.
It is simply the dreadful truth behind this reality.
The second way we might emerge is bitter. We might feel angry, cheated, disappointed, bereaved, that our life chances have been radically altered by a threat beyond our ability to control. And we have a right to ALL of those feelings. It’s not so much the feelings along the roller-coaster ahead that I’m thinking about, it’s the person who emerges at the end. We could become cynical, bitter, envious, hardened, more self-protective and impervious to hope and we could remain in that condition for life.
The third way we might emerge is ‘better’ – not perfect, not brilliant, battered but still better. Better relationally, if we have let go of smaller hurts and remembered to stay connected to those who matter to us. Better mentally, if we have talked more openly about ways to manage our mental wellbeing. Better physically, we might all need to take up gardening and growing vegetables! Better environmentally, if the global community can learn to work together.
And these three outcomes are not just personal and individual. All sorts of things might ‘die’: businesses, churches, clubs and societies. And all sorts of things might emerge ‘better’.
The best metaphor for death the Bible offers us is that of a seed being planted. And it’s a brilliant metaphor because just as a seed appears totally lifeless, drops into the ground and ‘dies’, it is followed by resurrection and transformation. (Read 1 Corinthians 15)
Resurrection is the trump card of the Christian faith. If we do not believe that Christ was raised from death, then what’s the point (wrote Paul the apostle)? But Christ was raised from death. (And there is so much good evidence for this being so. It’s a step of faith for sure but not a leap of blind, irrational, desperate hoping without foundation or evidence) and his conquering of death is passed on to us: ‘But Christ has been raised from the dead…. for since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. Far as in Adam all die,so in Christ, all will be made alive’ 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 (see also Romans 6:5)
Jesus spoke about his own death this way ‘I tell you the truth, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds’. (John 12:24)
My prayer for myself and for my brothers and sisters in faith is that even as certain things ‘die’ new seeds of life may spring up. Might we all stand more strongly on the foundations of our faith and become an ever improving reflection of the God we know have come to know and love? And my prayer for all humanity is that we might become kinder people, with greater compassion for others and deeper respect for our planet.
Resurrection says ‘we will emerge from this’. Let’s do all we can to emerge not bitter people but better people.
(AMAZING! While I was writing this piece a friend quietly slipped a beautiful and prophetic gift through my door: a hand painted envelope containing 3 ginger nut sunflower seeds, ready for immediate planting, to flower July – Oct. Thank you Heather and thank you Holy Spirit for such a lovely whisper of grace)