Drag a body through hell.
Wrap them in rags of love.
Lay them in a hole.
Bury them with a boulder
the size of the moon,
Then tell the body
“No peace for you.”
It’s Sunday. Get up.
Get back to work. Rise.
It was Easter morning. I was 34 at the only church I’d ever pastor. An unexplainable tension grew after just three years. I was their first woman minister. No one would talk to me directly about their concerns. Consultants didn’t help.
The worship planners put a chicken wire cross in the center of the sanctuary, ready to be adorned with flowers. The choir would sing. The story would be told. I hated the cinder block walls and brown linoleum floor, but appreciated that we could move the chairs around. This Sunday they were all set in rows, ready for the Easter homecoming crowd.
That did not happen. My last Easter as a “traditional” pastor was a tomb. Half of the regular people did not show up. Not only that, they never returned.
How is it that those who’ve been spiritual friends for decades could abandon one another on the day of Love?
If I look to the story of Jesus, to any religious break up story— that of Francis, Joan, Anne Hutchinson or the countless people who are rejected by churches it’s no surprise. I know many women ministers who were run out of the church or chose to leave. The shunning was painful. We don’t really tell that story. We just keep coming back with greater intensity. That is transcendence.
I don’t like Easter because it trumps Passover. Grief needs to remain for all the ways we kill each other. That needs to be in the middle of the story of transformation. It is not a thing that is past. Jesus does not subvert anything if we make Easter triumphal.
I do not like ending in major keys. That’s not complex enough for me artistically or religiously. Eggs? Rabbits? I love them. But pastels? I don’t wear them well.
I was asked to dance at church on Easter morning. I said no. Easter is the one Sunday I do want to dance.
But, I did dance on Passover and the day of crucifixion. In fact, I needed to dance. I needed to rip up social contracts that dehumanize and depreciate any of us for any reason. I needed to dance with the rebel love that asks me to go deeper than I thought I could. I needed to dance with a love that does not allow me to let go of anyone. And I’ll tell you what…it hurts.
Resurrection of the body only happens when we marry our hurt with healing. And not just personal healing. Its got to be a collective bodily resurrection. Otherwise, our poor individual bodies have to work too hard.
I will go to Easter services. I will do what I call my pew work. And you know what? There will probably be dance. Things are changing. The old ways are dying. Some even say Christendom is dead.
What is not dead is the body. The body lives…..with all of it. Fortunately, the people I hang out with both inside and outside institutions are wise to this. This wisdom carries me.