where the pain is

Life is full.

Sometimes it is full of joy, as it is these three days on vacation together as a family watching the rolling surf of Lake Michigan from our bluff top perch. We alternate between playing games and reading, enjoying good food and going for walks and runs.  The sound of the surf is our sound track, punctuated by laughter and silliness.  A season of joy when our muscles relax from the ordinary push and pull of living.

Sometimes life is full of pain and suffering, including the many deaths in our parish over the past few weeks, the most recent this past Monday with the service Thursday (today).  Whether we like it or not, grief, loss, illness, and failure are inextricably woven into the fabric of our lives.  The reality of refugees fleeing from war torn regions and bombs exploding in airports and subways weighs on all of us, whether we admit to it or not.  A season of struggle when our muscles tense with the pain from the ordinary push and pull of living.

I’m reminded, watching the surf, of the story by Mitch Albom:

A little wave was bobbing along in the ocean, having a grand old time. He’s enjoying the wind and the fresh air–until he notices the other waves in front of him, crashing against the shore. “My God, this is terrible,” the wave says. “Look what’s going to happen to me!” Then along comes another wave. It sees the first wave, looking grim, and it says to him, “Why do you look so sad?” The first wave says, “You don’t understand! We’re all going to crash! All of us waves are going to be nothing! Isn’t this terrible?” The second wave says, “No, YOU don’t understand. You’re not a wave, you’re part of the ocean.”

Such is the reality of these three days of Holy Week at the center of our Christian life and faith—such sweet and tender moments inextricably linked with heart-wrenching despair.  Many of us try to run from the pain, or numb it with busyness, consumption, or addictions.  We too often anesthetize ourselves from pain rather than move toward it, let alone embrace it.  And yet we cannot numb selectively, so our deep joy is buried along with the pain.

Meanwhile Jesus ‘goes to where the pain is,’ meeting us in the wounded places of our lives and our world, drawing us inexorably into our True Self.   He is present in and through all that our lives bring—the good, the bad, and the ugly—so that we might find the genuine, the real.  Jesus shows us that the Way involves suffering and loss.  Richard Rohr reminds us that they are themselves doorways into the abundant life God yearns for us all to share:

The only rub, and it is a big one, is that transformation and ‘crucifixion’ must intervene in between life and Life. . . Love, which is nothing more than endless life, is luring us forward, because love is what we also and already are and we are drawn to the fullness of our own being.

Join  others as we journey on the Way in and through these Holy Days to discover anew how to live our ‘one, wild and precious life’ in the arms of Love.  May the joyful tumbling of the waves encourage us to trust in the One who loves us intimately–more than we can ask or imagine.

Hope to see you on Sunday,

Elizabeth Jameson