I had been trained to value tragedy, sorrow and loss. I was born into a family that let loss have the last word, leaving us all to live diminished lives. Our unspoken family mantra was “It’s too late.” Loss and regret have been so programmed into my mind that a couple of weeks ago, I walked outside at 6:25 AM, noticed the sun had been up and out for a good twenty minutes or so, and immediately felt regret saying to myself, “I’m late, again. I’ve missed the first light.”
In my Episcopal church, as we conclude eating and drinking the Eucharist, we say together, “Let us keep the feast.” This past Sunday while listening to Sound in Spirit by Chanticleer, I came across these lines in O Sacrum Convivium, a song written in the late 16th century:
in which Christ is received
the memory of his passion is recalled
the soul is filled with grace,
and a pledge of future glory is given to us
This chorus reminds us to keep the feast, to recall his Passion, allowing our souls to be mysteriously filled with grace to become well and receive hope for our future. I believe that this is a recipe for joy. My experiences in this moment, no matter what they are, are best held within the love demonstrated in Christ’s Passion. As the sun rises and dies to rise again, when I recall Christ’s life and death, I am reminded of his rising to life on the third morning and I am left standing outside the tomb with the risen Christ in great hope. No kidding.
I am most often traumatized in my ability to recall past events. So tragedy does not happen once, it happens as often as something triggers the memory of that event in my mind or my body. When I bring the memory of pain to the one in pain, I open myself to healing. In that gracious state of openness, I am reminded that what is in the past is over. There is enough for me in this moment, good and bad, to respond to.
Being with what actually is, empowers me to be well for myself and others. I want to be able to discern when I am being overwhelmed with current experiences of fright and when I am only remembering them. Standing with the Risen Lord I receive grace in the life of this moment, open to more life to come.
I wrote this essay on September 17, 2008 for myself. I have already shared it with my church family in St. Luke's newsletter. I am happy to share it with you today.