I could tell you the story of my miracle Little League team of 1974.
We were 2-6 at the halfway point of our season and left for dead, but somehow we discovered a pitcher disguised as an outfielder, found our stride, and finished the season at 7-9, qualifying last for the playoffs. And, after two upset wins, and a berth in the championship game, we ended up defeating a 17-1 opponent to finish as champions of our 12 team little league with a record of 10-9.
I could tell you that story, and it’s a kind of little resurrection story, especially to the sports loving boy I was. Our little resurrection stories are fun to share. Maybe they grease the wheels of connection and communication or ease our discomfort with silence and new conversations. Blessed be.
But they’re not quite enough to truly bond a community, to feed the children and the elders, to rally us all in the face of lost jobs and lost dreams, of unexpected disease and death, of violence and challenges to the life and lives and communities we hold dear. For that, we need the Easter cycle stories we share to have higher stakes, deeper channels, more vulnerability.
So I could also tell you that about 25 years ago, all I could think, all I could manage, was to keep living and breathing one hour at a time. All I could do was to do the next task; get in the car, drive to work, keep working the first hour, then the second, and so on. A seminary graduate and holder of two master’s degrees, I was facing a second divorce after second short marriage. My life didn’t make sense to me and my inner critic and shame voice went into overdrive, pressing down hard on my psyche. Heartbroken, my soul was being crushed under the weight. I was depressed and poor, driving a delivery truck for just a little more than minimum wage. Without the help of some church elders, I would have been without a home. Everything took a strange kind of herculean effort and doing just the next thing was all I could do. I honestly didn’t see any hopeful future. I could only hope that one day I might have hope.
But I did get that help for housing. I did have faith enough to keep living and putting one foot in front of the other. Enough people (and animals) did show up to accompany and encourage me so that there eventually was resurrection. Not in one white light Sunday moment, but over weeks and months, a new life emerged. Not a life of perfect and constant bliss, but one with a new sense of resilience and faith, one with a new and deep faith in the power of resurrection.
Last Sunday, Pastor Amy invited us into an Eastertide practice of telling our resurrection stories, for our own freedom and for those who (or that which) might try to keep us imprisoned. Shame is one of the imprisoning, crucifying, and deadening forces. Researcher and author Brene Brown has noted that shame thrives on secrecy, silence, and judgment. Empathy and truth telling are its antidote. All of the ‘isms’ (racism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, ageism, etc) are kind of like shame as forces that imprison, crucify, and deaden. They want to tell us a story of entombment, the End. They want to tell us that our system, personal or social, is just the way it is and that suffering has no end, no redemption, only burial and resignation.
When we vulnerably speak and truly listen to our resurrection stories, we free ourselves and others from the forces of death because then we witness to hope, to a way through, to the experience of an Easter Sunday moment. Then we hear our painful human stories as God hears them, with a heart broken open and a faithful imagination that can see the buried bulb that contains a flower.
And, because of my experience and listening to that of others, I can tell you that every Easter, when it is declared, “Christ is risen!” I can answer with joyful conviction, “Christ is risen indeed!”
What stories of resurrection do you have?
What stories of resurrection have you heard that inspired you?