I’ve been fine. Despite the fact that it’s been Holy Week and I’ve felt entirely disengaged. I could feel the resistance to it. I did nothing. No Holy Thursday, one of my most favorite days of the entire liturgical year. No Good Friday, one of the most cathartic and comforting days of the entire liturgical year. (I did, however, abstain from meat because I just can’t not do that.) No Easter Vigil, one of the most exciting and beautiful days of the liturgical year. And this morning, my husband is playing trumpet at church for some friends while I sit at home.
This feels wrong. That Catholic guilt is sitting in my heart and head and belly. I think, “It wouldn’t be that hard to get dressed and go to the church . . . two blocks away.” But then I realize that it’s Easter and I have no desire to rise or to be risen today.
I thought I was fine. And then I started pouring the second layer of batter into the pan for some coffee cake this morning. I began to cry. Batter, streusel, batter, tears, streusel.
This feels ridiculous. But maybe it isn’t. It’s been a little more than a year since Ryan’s suicide. It’s been almost eight years since Shaun’s. Today is the fifth anniversary of our family friend Barb’s death. It’s been five months since my last day of work at a place I thought I’d be forever. (And despite loving being self-employed, I have to acknowledge that there’s some grieving about this too.) Not to mention the wider political and societal chaos that’s happening daily. So maybe it’s not surprising that I cried into my baking.
The theologian in me is annoyed and a little ashamed. “Easter isn’t just about you, you know. It’s about Jesus rising for all of us.” Her arms are crossed and she’s tapping her foot. She does not approve of my stubbornness. She knows I know better.
But the rest of me? The rest of me needs to sit with this discomfort a while. When I wrote about Easter last year, I thought by this year I’d be ready to leave the tomb, to celebrate new life and resurrection. I’m not. “That’s when you need it most,” theologian-me says. She’s a bit huffy, I notice. But she’s right on some level. I do need the rhythm of the liturgical year. I used to take great comfort in that rhythm. The liturgical year gives us space to feel it all: anticipation and excitement, joy and relief, stillness and emptiness, amazement and humility, even steadiness and perhaps boredom. With Ryan’s suicide, though, I’m realizing that I need my own timetable right now, not the church’s. Chocolate bunnies, a lit candle, and a fancier-than-usual dinner are what I can do this year, not big, beautiful liturgies that break me open. Silence and baking and tea and writing—I can handle that this year. I can wrap my head and heart around these things. I’m not sure I can wrap my head around what it means to die and rise again. The empty tomb seems so big, so gaping. It should be full of promise, and it is, in general. In particular, though, this year, I just don’t know how to take it in.
Perhaps it’s a sign of my pride that I think I should know how to take it in, that I think it’s even possible to wrap one’s head around resurrection. This holiday is absurd. It makes no sense. A God become flesh, crucified, dead, buried. The story should end there, but it doesn’t. Because God’s love shatters what we know, what we expect, what we believe. And maybe that’s precisely what I’m wrestling with today: I already feel shattered, scattered, and not by God’s love. So what does it mean to be broken further, to let God be the breaker and the healer? I’m not so sure this morning. But I’m willing to sit in this stillness, with this coffee cake and cup of tea, and see what arises.