Tag Archiv: sorrow

Becoming Lazarus

La résurrection de Lazare (English titles: "The Resurrection of Lazarus" or "The Raising of Lazarus") by Leon Bonnat, 1857.

La résurrection de Lazare (English titles: “The Resurrection of Lazarus” or “The Raising of Lazarus”) by Leon Bonnat, 1857.

Sometimes when things are not good or safe, you separate yourself into pieces. In hospitals and battlefields, this time honored tradition is known as triage. There are not enough resources to save everyone, so you save those most likely to live. Losses are unfortunate but inevitable.

Growing up and into my twenties, the survival of some of me came at the cost of the rest of me. This has been a source of grief. Not to mention a long and bitter war within myself. (The parts of me scheduled for early demise were not that cooperative with the parts of me giving the orders.) I wasn’t happy about the executions, but then again I didn’t exactly see other options. The ferocity with which some parts tried to live troubled me. I worried that if they did not die, they would spread through my bones like cancer, and then there would be none of me.

I got them before they got me – those other parts of me. But the death bothered me. It might have been the only way I knew to survive, but it wasn’t right. It wasn’t supposed to be that way. Through the years against my wishes and without planning to, I would find myself like Mary and Martha weeping inconsolable at the tomb.

Engulfed in sorrow, I mourned the loss. But I did not dream of resurrection. In matters of life and death there is no going back. I did not think of Lazarus. Dead is dead. What’s done is done. These are true things which even a child can verify.

At least they were true until yesterday. On a Tuesday after Easter, some irrevocably done things were undone. The dead were invited to live. Love spoke and the parts of me long wrapped in grave clothes and buried were called forth.

I believe in the necessity of risk. I believe in betting on the gamble of love. But sometimes you don’t do anything. You aren’t even hoping terribly hard (on account of being dead and all). From the depths you begin to hear a voice. This is strange because dead people aren’t known for their listening skills, but the sound of your name becomes unmistakable.

It is shocking. So much so that you don’t do anything about it for a very long time. Months. Years. Dead people don’t lie around anticipating change or feeling urgency. (It never crosses your mind to remember that the dead lie waiting to be called forth.) The voice is insistent, beguiling. It dances invisible in the air around your corpse until it seeps into you. Until it is moving through you like blood from the determined heart of a lover. One moment you are resigned to death; the next you cannot lie there another minute agreeing to accept it as a permanent condition.

You rise up not knowing what waits. You find it a surprisingly long walk from where you were lying to the entrance of the tomb. You walk blind, shaking and stumbling because you aren’t dead anymore but you aren’t used to being alive either.

You look, sound, and act like you came from far away because you did. You don’t know for sure how to take off all the chic death wrap but you’re looking forward to it. How much help you’ll need or what you can manage alone you’re not sure. But you don’t care. He’s there. It’s an Easter story. It’s not a metaphor, it’s a resurrection.

Whatever the word on the street, death is not the last act. And resurrection isn’t earned. Resurrection is offered, with it’s power hidden behind such tenderness that it takes your breath away. I know because yesterday, this was me.


The Feast of St. Nicholas, by Jan Steen. (via Wikimedia Commons)

The Feast of St. Nicholas, by Jan Steen. (via Wikimedia Commons)

You can’t have families without kitchens. Families are all wrapped up in kitchens, in the lines on the tile, mixed in with the paint on the walls, and sprinkled like rice in odd cracks on the floor. The family you grew up in lives in the cupboards. The one you have now is everywhere else. Sometimes things stay as separate as a quarter of a century. Other times it’s like a finger painting when the finger can’t stop. Lots of swirls but they’re all the same colour and you can’t tell where the lines are supposed to be between your life then and now.

Boy one came across the kitchen the other morning and  somebody must have opened the cupboards. All of a sudden I wanted my mom to see how tall he was so much it hurt. That’s the thing. I don’t miss her at certain times of year, I miss her in my kitchen. She’s never even been there. Except of course the cupboards.

I do my best thinking in the kitchen. It’s not because I’m already there so much; I go to the kitchen on purpose to think. I do my worst thinking in the kitchen too. If I’m sure somebody isn’t home yet because they’ve died in a terrible accident, you can bet  I’m cleaning out the toaster or whipping up some biscuits, possibly refilling the spice jars.

A kitchen is somehow the place that can hold the weight of your sadness, while keeping the floor polished (flour and sugar granules with a hint of barn boot work well) and ready for a happy dance. A kitchen is like a church with a reversible altar. You can sacrifice tears and laughter on the same day and nothing is awkward. Whatever you bring rises up and joins in with a hundred other joys and sorrows. Yours and other peoples brought to the same counters and sinks.

In my kitchen, I am an indentured servant. Long hours required. Gratitude optional. I am also a queen with magical powers. I choose whom to bless and whom to curse. At my fingertips are the ingredients with which I can turn a grumpy heart cheerful and vice versa. When my subjects behave, I feed them well. Albeit while puttering away in dribs and drabs at the leftover heart and tongue disposal project. (Thanks to an obviously confused butcher, we clearly have the heart of every lamb from four counties in our freezer.)

At our kitchen table we play, pray, plan and decide things together. Above all, we eat. Children’s positions are changed regularly in an ongoing attempt to divine the best possible combinations for conflict reduction. The perfect set up lasts about a week. Some days I imagine eating somewhere else. The porch. Anywhere spelled by myself. The kitchen says no thank you. It all belongs here. Messy love, indentured servitude and joy beyond all recounting.