The End, the Beginning, and Rising Again and Again
Throughout the Lenten season and particularly now during Holy Week, I’ve been thinking a lot about endings. During this powerful period of reflection commemorating Jesus’ final days, I’ve been revisiting memories of the more painful periods in my life. Like most people, I have endured many endings over the years, some inconvenient and disappointing, others devastating. It was those devastating endings that especially felt like death to the life I knew and was desperate to hold on to.
But each of those endings led me to a new way of living. For instance, if it hadn’t been for my divorce, I wouldn’t be in the marriage I have now. If it had not been for being downsized from a job I had for more than a decade, I would have stayed comfortable but stagnant. More important, I wouldn’t have been prompted to heed the call to pursue seminary education and ministry.
Of course, in the immediate aftermath of those endings, I believed I had failed at marriage and at work. I felt embarrassed. More than that, I felt like a part of me had died. And I couldn’t imagine my life or even myself without my identity as a wife or an employee. I could not see a way forward, and in those earliest days, I didn’t try to.
But over time, I found my way forward and moved on from those endings. There would be other jobs and new relationships, but more important, I leaned into the resilience that helped me rise again, wiser and stronger.
“We all live within this cycle of endings and beginnings, this pattern of crucifixion and resurrection.”
Falling Down and Rising Up
We all live within this cycle of endings and beginnings, this pattern of crucifixion and resurrection. It recurs throughout our lives to one degree or another. It’s so easy to feel as though the endings that happen in our lives are the end of the road and nothing will ever be the same again. But we can learn so much from the Easter story and find its relevance in our lives. The morning after Good Friday, the sun rose on a new day. Of course, that Saturday was filled with shock and grief for those who had witnessed the death of their beloved teacher and friend the day before. They had no way of knowing Sunday would bring the glorious news of the empty tomb and the resurrected Jesus.
Likewise, our endings may feel like the end for us, but as long as we’re alive, the sun will rise on a new day. I don’t mean to be glib. Endings can be extraordinarily painful, and being told life goes on can be a cold comfort when the pain is raw. But the good news is that you’re still here. And the story of your life is still being written by you.
No matter where you are on the spiritual path—the pain of crucifixion, the desolation of the Saturday experience, or on the cusp of a new life—the Easter story is yours.
This week as Holy Week progresses, and on Sunday as you celebrate Jesus’ triumphant overcoming, I invite you to also reflect upon and celebrate all that you have overcome. The endings, the aftermath, and the new beginnings have all led you to this place. On so many days and in so many ways, you have risen. Happy Easter.