Quaker author and activist Parker Palmer recalls encountering a book by the Guatemalan poet Julia Esquivel, entitled Threatened With Resurrection. At the time, Palmer was going through a period of severe depression, which he describes as a “death in life” experience.
“When I was depressed,” he writes, “nobody expected anything of me, nor did I expect anything of myself. I was exempt from life’s demands and risks. But if I were to find new life, who knows what daunting tasks I might be required to take on?” (Parker Palmer, “An Upside Down Easter Meditation”, Huffington Post, March 29, 2013). Palmer had always felt death to be a menacing reality, and conversely, the idea of resurrection represented for him the comfort of hope and joy. The title of Esquivel’s book started him into the recognition that death and resurrection come in many forms.
In its figurative forms, death can sometimes feel more comforting than the possibility of new life. Indeed, confronting the unknowns of new life can feel downright threatening. At times we fear what new life might ask of us. No wonder we doubt, hesitate or even recoil when resurrection stirs in our lives.
Holy Week provides a helpful context for pondering the mysteries of life and death. In walking the way of the cross, we are invited to re-acquaint ourselves with our fears, as a prelude to embracing the full future of resurrection life.
Are there places of new life stirring in you? What new light, new energy, new hope might be beckoning and calling you forward? Easter invites us to bid farewell to death’s hold on us and rise to meet the new life that awaits us. With the risen Christ as our companion, we can walk the path that is set before us with boldness and confidence.