Then the Rising

This post is preceded by Then the Waiting

Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

First the pain, then the waiting, then the rising.

I didn’t imagine that resurrection would go so slow.

I wasn’t looking for fast change, really. I had, in the tomb, decided it would be all right if I could just get to the other side of it all. But I found myself wishing I wasn’t so wounded. Everywhere I went, I seemed to arrive with this basketful of hurt, burdened with an uncertainty of what to do with it. I knew better by now than to share this hurt with just anyone; I was tired out of other people’s prescriptive solutions for things they knew so little about.

I became a blank screen.

Smiles faded, tears were kept hidden. I barely engaged with those outside of a very small group of people other than my family.

My reasoning was this:

If it was so easy for people who had known me for years to replace what they knew of me with this other version created by the abuser to preempt anything I might have said about him…why show myself at all?

If I could be so easily discarded, perhaps it was best if I just kept myself from the table.

It worked for awhile.

But soon those joints I had fought to free from the rust of years of fearful stillness began to rust over again. Maybe my grandma was right, maybe my face would freeze this way, but now I was looking down, not smiling, keeping my laughter and my curiosity and my love small.

Hadn’t I fought to be free?

He used to discourage me from reading.

It wasn’t blatant or obvious. Few things in a psychologically abusive system are. But a script of “I’d be careful with that book/author/subject because of x/y/z” and my hand dropped from the spine of the book resting on the shelf. I read safe books, easy books, depth-of-a-teaspoon books. This did not help my mind or life seem easy, or safe. I have always been hungry for words, thoughts, deep conversation.

So the first reclamation of my own damn mind was to pick up a book of my choosing.

Still, I felt afraid. Was I allowed to read this? What would people think?

The books I chose were not necessarily scandalous, but they were by authors on the dangerous outskirts of the questioning faithful. I was afraid of anger in their words. I had enough anger of my own. I wasn’t sure I had the stomach for more.

What I found instead in these “dangerous” writers, speakers, thinkers, was unexpected compassion, far deeper than I had been witnessing for many years in church. Compassion for everyone, not just the selected few who thought or acted or questioned like them.

Words like a balm, and I braved standing up.

Book upon book, and I took a step or two forward.

Step after step, until I stood, blinking in bright warm sunlight, on the other side of the tomb’s cold walls.

First the pain, then the waiting, then the rising. Sometimes all at once, and sometimes, step by step.

I’m still learning how to walk in the sun. I still have a lot to learn, actually, about freedom, and agency, and my own capacity to live right into the spark that came so close to dying out.

This song has been a song of hope, a slow rising, a promise that “The sunlight can change a heart in the wake of a bitter end.”

This post’s artwork is The Light Inside by James Turrell.

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