This has been a very strange week for me. Sometime, around the beginning of May, I realized my creativity, ability to generate ideas, and create any kind of sensible workflow was basically non-existent. After trying to push through my funk I realized I wasn’t going to get anywhere unless I took a few steps back. I thought it might be a good idea to take a week where I could spend part of my days resting, getting some projects done around the house, and also taking some time to go to different parts of town to explore and work on my writing.
Well, we all know how the good ole “staycation” works out. I’ve put in more hours than I planned with work, unable to pull myself away from the phone and e-mail. But the most frustrating thing has been trying to fix the air-conditioning in my car, something I originally thought might take an hour or two. I’m currently sitting in a coffee shop, near my house, after dropping my car off at the mechanic for the third day in a row. This ongoing car repair saga has not been helpful for my stress level or my bank account.
My own inconveniences were put into perspective the other day, though. A colleague/friend/mentor of mine has been struggling with her health over the past couple of years, but I was still shocked to get an e-mail informing me, and others, that she had experienced a major stroke and was lying, unresponsive, but in stable condition, in the hospital. This comes on the heels of another good friend and colleague who just underwent brain surgery and was diagnosed with a malignant tumor. To be honest, I feel a deep sadness over both of these situations.
Over the years I’ve stopped asking God, “why do these things happen?” I don’t think it’s in God’s nature to give people massive strokes or cancer. Instead, I believe that God calls us to be an extension of God’s healing presence when others are suffering or are in need. I’ve found it far more helpful to be present with those I care about and to do whatever I can to relieve even a fraction of their suffering. Yet, sometimes, even us pastor-types still don’t understand pain and suffering.
In the New Testament, Luke’s gospel tells the story of a mother who was grieving the death of her only son. It’s a story that will be read in many churches, this Sunday. As Jesus and the disciples arrive at the mother’s village, Jesus stops those who are carrying her son’s body and says to the mother, “do not weep.” He then goes over to the man’s body and tells him to rise. Miraculously, the young man rises, speaks, and is reunited with his mother. Those who witness this then rejoice and praise God for what has happened. (Luke 7:11-17)
Normally, I’d probably offer some in-depth analysis on this passage and explain to you the symbolism and meaning of this miracle in the larger narrative of Luke’s gospel. However, this week, I just can’t intellectualize this story. I need the hope that this story offers. I need to believe in the new life that Christ gives us in every moment. I need to know that healing and life will ultimately overcome illness and tragedy.
This week, I need to bring it all to Jesus and I need to hear him say to me, “do not weep.”
May the God of love, healing, compassion, and of the peace that surpasses all understanding be with us now and forever. Amen.