Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Celebrating Easter When Experiencing Loss

In the last post I talked about the importance of family.  Like Christ, I intend a broad definition of “family.”  But the point is that it is in such close human relationships that we can begin to conceptualize the love of God. 

I can remember two distinct occasions in my life when I felt with particular intensity that I was loved very, very deeply.  One was on the day of my baptism when I was in my early 20s.  The other was several years later when my husband and I got married. 

On the first occasion, I was so amazed and so grateful for God reaching out to me and calling me to be part of his family.  It was overwhelming.  I prayed that I’d be worthy of his love.  I prayed that others would know his love too.

On the second occasion, I felt loved from two different sources.  I felt loved by God for sending me such an amazing man to be my partner.  And I was just incredulous that a person who wasn’t even related to me, who was under no obligation to do so, affirmatively chose me in such a profound way.   Even though I am a total weirdo and quite imperfect, my guy loved me so much that he chose me to share his life.  He publicly promised to God and a bunch of other folk that he’d stay by me forever. 

The intensity of being so loved made me cry like a baby at both my baptism and at my wedding.  During our wedding liturgy, I remember my poor husband desperately ripping the faux hankie from his rented tux to try to console me and give me something to sop up the tears that wouldn’t stop flowing during the hour long mass. 

One of the bittersweet aspects of loving human relationship is that at some point we will experience separation due to the physical death of people in our lives.  As Christians, we understand that kind of loss to be temporary.  We know physical death is not permanent and we’ll be reunited in heaven.  Nonetheless, that kind of separation is very painful, even for people of faith.  When you love someone so deeply, not having them in your life any more hurts intensely. 

The loss of a partner can particularly be difficult.  And that pain can be intensified at certain milestones, like holidays.  Our family has several friends who have been widowed in the last year.  I’ve been thinking of them this week.  Some of them were celebrating their first Easter without their loved one.  I know it must have been very difficult, but I hope they were consoled by the meaning of Easter.

As I’ve been reflecting on the profound impact of being loved by one’s partner, and the pain at being separated from that person, two songs have been on my mind.  They are by very different secular artists, but they express similar experiences.  I hope you enjoy them.

“I Try” by Macy Gray

“Where Have You Been?” by Kathy Mattea

John 11:32-37

Mary [the sister of Lazarus] arrived where Jesus was, and as soon as she saw him, she fell at his feet.
Lord, she said,
if you had been here, my brother would not have died!

Jesus saw her weeping, and he saw how the people with her were weeping also; his heart was touched, and he was deeply moved.
Where have you buried him? he asked them.

Come and see, Lord, they answered.

Jesus wept.
See how much he loved him! the people said.

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