Two weeks ago, I looked at my Christmas cactus and wondered if, like me, it needed a haircut. It’d finished blooming, so it was time. But then I saw a tiny bud and found another and another. My faithful friend wasn’t ready to stop blessing me.
Some mornings I wake in triumph having rested well and not given in to the temptation to eat during the night. This morning, I wake in defeat. I make coffee and look to see how the buds have changed. Their growth is barely noticeable.
In an email, I receive this quote by Joan Chittister.
As life goes on, it becomes clearer and clearer that the cross is not a dark aspect of religion. It is, on the contrary, the one hope we have that our own lives can move through difficulty to triumph. It’s the one thing that enables us to hang on and not give up when hanging on seems impossible and giving up seems imperative. The cross says very clearly that things will work out if we work them out and that whatever is, is important to our life’s fulfillment. The cross says that we can rise if we can only endure.
We’re in the Easter season and yet, in many ways, we’re still on the cross of our struggles and in the tomb of Covid-19. I keep losing and gaining back two of the thirty pounds I need to shed to bring my cholesterol down. I remind myself to be present when I walk, but my mind, like a restless hound, strains on the leash. A kilometre later, I realize I’ve been planning again.
When I realize that once again I’ve failed to do what I intended, I feel sad and discouraged. The temptation to give up is strong but not as strong as the temptation to berate myself.
For a split second, I pause.
It’s in that pause, that resurrection happens.
In that pause, I hear, “This is hard.”
The tiny buds say, “Look at me. Trust. New life is coming.”
“Persevere,” Joan says.
That’s enough to open my heart to pray and allow me to unroll my yoga mat. I hear Adriene say, “Let’s begin seated in a cross-legged position. Congratulate yourself for being here. The hardest part of the practice is over.”
All I have to do right now is to listen to her voice and notice how it feels in my body. That’s all God asks of me in this moment.
“Root to rise,” I hear Adriene say.
Rooted, I rise.
“If we could surrender to Earth’s intelligence,
we would rise up rooted, like trees.”
–Rainer Maria Rilke
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In many ways, my story is nothing like Maya Angelou’s and yet I listen to this and know she is speaking for all of us. We have all been lied about, ground down, and killed with hatefulness. We have all been the slaves of shame and pain and yet, like life, we rise. We rise because Christ, who is at the core of our being, rose and continues to rise.