“All along I thought
I was learning how to take
How to bend not how to break
How to live not how to cry
I’ve been learning how to die
I’ve been learning how to die”
~ John Foreman
Inception: An event that is a beginning; a first part or stage of subsequent events
Resurrection: The act of rising from the dead or returning to life.
[Setting the stage]
It’s a beautiful spring morning in Minnesota. A young girl awakes to the sound of shuffling, banging and tense voices. These are not the normal sounds of Easter morning…or are they? Curious, she descends the creaky wooden stairway to see what all the commotion could be about. But the scene is not what she imagined from the sounds in her attic room. This scene seemed far more fictional, more eerie and sinister. Perhaps the girl was still dreaming…
The past ten weeks for me have been not unlike the way I felt during the first hour of the movie Inception:
…Confused…Perplexed…A little bit eerie…and just downright surreal at times.
But I didn’t need a spinning top to tell me that it wasn’t a dream. I wished it was. At times I prayed it was. So you may be asking yourself…what happened 10 weeks ago?
I’ll spare you details but the short of it is: One day I’m a full time homeschooling mom and yoga teacher, and the next day, I’m confined to a bed in terrible pain. There was no car accident, no sports injury, no bike crash and no tripping down the stairway. I was overrun by random and extreme muscle spasms throughout my whole body. We saw regular doctors, spine doctors, chiros and natural doctors. My suggested diagnosis’ ranged form Epstein Barr Virus, Fibromyalgia, to “well you just don’t stretch enough”. I guess they missed the part where I said I’m a YOGA TEACHER! And last but not least, (and my personal favorite)…”It’s all in your head”. Wait a minute…all this was sounding eerily familiar.
I woke up that Easter morning, 25 years ago, to the reality of my Dad and brother carrying my mom, who was laid out flat on a wood board, to take her to the hospital.
My mother woke up, 25 years ago, to the reality that she had no control over her body. She was paralyzed from her neck down to her feet, for what at the time was unknown reasons.
Sure, there were signs of things not being right in her body before this: Weak limbs, fatigue, motor skill changes, but nothing like this! So….what were some of her informal diagnosis’? Well, pretty much everything from brain deterioration or ‘crazy’, to “acting out because of a bad marriage”. After much searching, we did finally find a great doctor who diagnosed her with an unusually aggressive form of Multiple Sclerosis, and we were in for a bumpy ride. To me, this felt like the death of my family.
I have spent my life, up to this point, doing everything in my power to prevent that day from coming (and yet still preparing for it), running from it and yet sure it would inevitably find me. And when that day finally darkened my door, I felt ABANDONED! Abandoned by every defense I had built around me. My methods of controlling my fate…my fear, my diet, my yoga; For 25 years, these had been my constant companions and in one great moment they took a bow and made their exit. What was I to do now? Much like one who seeks revenge, I hadn’t really made any plans past that one imagined moment. And just like the one who’s taken revenge, I was left alone, with nothing but empty sorrow, remorse and no direction. I had to walk away from all my yoga jobs. I couldn’t clean, cook, read, watch movies, visit with friends…nothing. The pain was all-consuming. This felt like the death of me.
Someone once asked me if I was afraid of dying. I said no. See, I know what will happen to me when I die. That is not in question. It’s the process of dying that scares me. What I have failed to recognize, these 25 years, is that life is all about dying. But, for every death, there can be a resurrection. We see this in nature; a flower dies and another springs up in it’s place. We see it when a dear friend passes, and we watch her husband and children be resurrected into new found beauty and happiness. We see it most clearly though, if we are open to the truth….in Christ’s death on this earth and his resurrection, making possible our own resurrection from spiritual death.
Ten weeks ago WAS the death of the ‘me’ that I had been. Easter morning 25 years ago WAS the death of my mom as I knew her. But, these deaths were just the Inception. As for my mother, her body may be weak, but SHE is stronger than ever! She knows who she is and where she is going. She is content in all her circumstances. I pray that I can face my own “deaths” with the beauty and grace that my mother has shown me.
My hope and prayer for you, is that as you begin to look for resurrection in every death (physical, relational, metaphorical…), that you will see how they are only shadows of a very real and more powerful resurrection. A resurrection from ALL death, sorrow, sadness, and fear.