Holding On In the Letting Go In A Pandemic: What Is So
Why is life the way it is?
“Life is the way it is because that’s the way life is,” the Landmark Forum Leader said.
“Life doesn’t have to be this way,” the preacher said.
Right now, right here, life is unfolding moment by moment. Mary has encountered the risen Christ outside the empty tomb. Even so, let us pause to feel sad. Grant sadness the space it cries for however deep, high and wide.
Cry for the baby no longer kicking in the tummy. Cry for the silenced child whose eyes scream terror from abuse. Cry for the sick and dying out of personal choice to go unvaccinated in the name of freedom. Cry for the beloved country being invaded without a just cause.
What is life but pain? What of peace, joy, love?
Pain in the world. Pain in the news. Pain in the joints. Pain in the heart. Vain attempts to rid the pain by tuning out the news, going to the doctor, taking the medicine and hiking the mountain are befriended by another question:
What is the point of the pain of this life, especially of unnecessary suffering, and must I try to rid myself of it to reach the place Stanley Hauerwas speaks of — to say wholeheartedly this is my life and I want no other?
If there is no escaping what was, what is, and what is to be, then what is left but to accept it all?
Acceptance brings about another question, one more difficult than the one that leads to it: What is on the other side of acceptance?
Tremble at what the answer might be. Tremble at the cross too heavy for Jesus to carry. Tremble at the stone no longer blocking the tomb entrance.
“What is on the other side of that mountain?” I, as a child, would ask from my swing.
“Just another mountain is all,” my father said. And I felt sad, for I had imagined a village filled with log cabins and warm campfires, a cold river and kind people.
In the void a new question is born: What does a life without fear not only look like, but feel like?
This brings to mind Joy Harjo’s poem, “I Give You Back.”
If giving up is not the answer, and giving back is, then I am free to live this one and only life as never before. To choose life by accepting what is so. With acceptance comes the release of one’s imperfect self, reimagined in the Creator’s image to resemble the crucified and risen one.
On the other side of the mountain is just another mountain, yet one that will soon offer fresh berries. With last year’s crop vanished to where I will never fully know — perhaps to the dirt, perhaps into pancakes, jam, syrup — I wait.
Afternoon intersects with evening. Vibrant colors fade to a hazy glow. Self-preservation gives way to peace, joy, and love.
In life’s thicket I begin again.
Dr. Lace Williams-Tinajero, author of “The Reshaped Mind: Searle, the Biblical Writers, and Christ’s Blood,” (Brill, 2011) writes about the connection between language and the diverse ways people think of, speak of, believe in and ultimately worship God.