Luke 8:49-56 New King James Version (NKJV)
49 While He was still speaking, someone came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house, saying to him, “Your daughter is dead. Do not trouble the [a]Teacher.”
50 But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, “Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.” 51 When He came into the house, He permitted no one to go [b]in except [c]Peter, James, and John, and the father and mother of the girl. 52 Now all wept and mourned for her; but He said, “Do not weep; she is not dead, but sleeping.” 53 And they ridiculed Him, knowing that she was dead.
54 But He [d]put them all outside, took her by the hand and called, saying, “Little girl, arise.” 55 Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately. And He commanded that she be given something to eat. 56 And her parents were astonished, but He charged them to tell no one what had happened.
I have stepped away from writing and publishing for almost a year, losing my voice and my focus as I have gone about the work of breathing. Grief is completely different in the second year, less visible, less pronounced. In fact the second year brought me out of the haze, the comfortable shock that dulled my senses and allowed me a cushion. The second year was evidence that I was surviving and most days I asked why. Searching for the point, for the joy, for anything other than the ever-present ache, I threw myself back into ministry. Scheduling daily meetings and events, saying yes to newly expanded roles at church, I plodded. Most days I looked like I was healed, like I was getting on with life. Yet what was happening inside felt more like a slow death, like a giving up of life, like I was sleep walking until the day I could be called home.
As we enter the third year of life without our son, I am waking. Having spent months evaluating relationships and the purpose of everything, including why we have this many mugs and really, why do we decorate for holidays, as well as what I am actually doing with each day that I inexplicably keep getting, I have discovered that the old has to go. Like new wine that must go into a new wineskin, I cannot keep what used to work. I am not that person anymore. But what am I now? Who am I now? Always the bigger question, why am I now? With all of this on a constant loop like background music, some days I hear it consciously as I consider the foolishness of the wreath on my front door or the oddity of owning an ice cream maker. Other days I notice an unsettledness, an awkward feeling like I am wearing someone’s clothes, realizing I don’t fit in them and they aren’t me. The very act of noticing signals to me that I am rousing,
So it is that when reading Luke chapter 8 yesterday, I saw the young girl who was dead to all but Jesus. Remembering that girls had little value in that society (has anything changed?), I saw this young woman anew. By most of our culture’s standards, I too have little value. No income or social standing, I don’t bring much to the table. Yet Jesus heard that she wasn’t living, that she had been counted out and he wondered at why they would think such a thing. He knew she had more, she was more. He invited only those most trusted in to see her, he gathered loved ones to be at the ready for her revival. It was a small circle, an intimate one. Jesus could have brought her to life in front of the crowds, a display of his power. Yet he chose to speak truth to her, to call her back up, knowing when she roused and became whole again, her eyes should open first to see those she could trust with her new heart.
The gentleness of Jesus’s words, “Little girl, arise” have broken me, woken me. The endearing way he reminds her she is a child of God, and with one word, speaks power into her life, how can I keep sleep walking through my days? After she accepts his invitation, he tells those gathered to feed her. Wow. As someone who thrives on feeding others, who breathes in the power to nourish the souls of those at my table, I get it. If I am going to arise, I need to be fed straight away. Closing my circle, making sure that those who are with me in resurrection are trusted, listening for the gentle words of Jesus as he speaks to my soul, I believe I can wake up and begin to live again.
I am entering the third year of grief. I know I will never heal back into who I was the day before I forgot how to breathe. I have grieved the loss of that woman, the one who thought all the hardest days had already passed, that trusted the best days were ahead. I know now that every day is hard and my fragile heart could be broken all over again at a moment’s notice. A new me is waking though, in the company of Jesus who said to me, “Little girl, arise.” If you find yourself counted as dead or worthless, know that Jesus hasn’t given up hope. May you find yourself rising as well, into the life Jesus has for you. Let’s nourish each other, let’s provide sustenance for our steps back into living. I’ll see you at the table.