A Celebration of Resurrection

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
-e.e. cummings

The Tree of Life, by Gustav Klimt

 I love this poem by e.e. cummings. It was read at my wedding and it is never far from the back of my mind. And today, on this Easter Sunday, it seems to be the right poem for this moment: the day set aside to celebrate and rejoice over resurrection.

Prior to resurrection, as we’ve explored this week, comes death and loss. And then grief and mourn

ing. And then waitin

g, watching and hoping. But today is a day when we can celebrate the ways that those we have lost, who have died to use in one sense, are still at work in the world, involved in the work of creative transformation and accompanying us as we move out into the still unknown future.

On Easter, my mind is always drawn back to those people who have gone before me, who left great, gaping holes in my world. Whose hearts I still carry with me, and whose influence and lives are still vibrant forces.

I think of my Grandpa Yoder, who died when I was only 12 years old, but whose love for learning and history is still wedged in my memory. I remember sitting curled up by my grandma, at a large family reunion, and watching him excitedly lead a conversation recalling many old Yoder family stories. As I have gone on to college, and cultivated my own academic interests, I know that the love of learning that my cousins and I are cultivating is a powerful testament to our grandfather’s witness and influence in our lives and the lives of our parents.

I think of Joyce, one of my best friends from childhood through high school, who endured a long, hard journey with brain cancer. I think of Joyce whenever I am overtaken by laughter, to the point of being unable to stop, and when I hear Handel’s Messiah, parts of which we sang together as a duet. Joyce taught me, and continues to teach me, about what it means to embrace life fully. I feel her presence and influence whenever I am tempted to worry too much or to take myself too seriously, urging me to embrace those places around me that are life-giving and full of energy. I know that she has and is teaching me about compassion, and about what it means to accompany people gracefully in difficult times. Joyce teaches me about hospitality and forgiveness.

This list of “ancestors,” the community that has preceded me in death but still accompanies me today, through the powerful creative interworkings of resurrection, could be expanded.

Christ on Easter Morning, by He Qi

But finally, today on Easter Sunday, I think of Jesus. Whose life we meditate on all throughout Lent, and whose resurrection provides the impetus for our celebration today. Jesus is the principle of creative transformation that pushes each of us to challenge the status quo and to understand God’s pull for us towards justice in every moment of every day. Nicolas Berdyaev writes, “Creative activity [embodied through Jesus’ continued work in the world] will not come to terms with the given state of the world, it desires another. The creative act always calls up the image of something different; it imagines something higher, better and more beautiful than this – than the ‘given.’”

And resurrection is the mechanism that allows this creativity to persist, in the world and in me. My grandfather, my friend and Jesus have all been enveloped and integrated into the life of God, and are parts of this creative transformation: the movement in the world that urges me towards greater liberation and love.

I carry these hearts with me. I carry them in my heart.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “A Celebration of Resurrection

  1. Beverly Cotton

    I believe in the resurrection. I believed after I lost my beloved husband, and then my sister and then my mother. I believe because I feel their love around me all the time like a warm blanket. That was a beautiful Easter message. Blessings to you.

    • Hannah Heinzekehr

      Thanks for this response, Beverly! Easter for me is about remembering and renaming this love that enfolds us, just like you said.

  2. Janie Roeschley

    From MARRIAGE AND OTHER ACTS OF CHARITY by Kate Braestrup (2010, Little Brown), who was widowed with four small children, writing about Mary’s encounter with Jesus at the tomb, when he tells her not to cling to him. “The way the Christian promise is generally interpreted, Mary doesn’t have to be sad anymore. Nice, eh? Who wouldn’t want *resurrection* to mean that those we have loved and lost are restored to our embrace? But Mary can’t embrace Jesus. ‘Do not cling to me,’ he says. So what was true for me and true for you remained true for Mary Magdalene, even after she learned how to love him, even after his resurrection from the dead: We can’t have our dear dead ones back, not as they were, not as we loved them. It isn’t the *beloved* that resurrects. It is *love* itself.” (emphasis mine, pg 105)

    • Hannah Heinzekehr

      Jane – I like this quote. I actually just listened to a sermon in chapel by one of our MDiv students yesterday about what it means that Jesus tells Mary Magdalene not to cling to him. So, I don’t want to cling necessarily to the images of the ways that my friends and family were, but indeed to the spirit of love that remains. Thanks for reading!

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