Afterdeath

It is Holy Saturday. The day after Good Friday. The day before Sunday. The day in between.

It is a day where we either sit in deep sorrow or jump quickly to joy. Sometimes both. We can run to the park and plant bright plastic eggs or hold holy vigils that are solemn and silent.

It is hard to pin down, this enigma before Easter.

Image result for prayer vigil photo

Today it is windy in the city of San Francisco. It’s one of those days where the sunshine and light makes it look like you’d want to be outside, but then you step out the door and you’re suddenly shrouded in cold restless winds that have no place to go. I watch out my window as the trees bow and rise, leaving a torrent of leaves scattered in sunshine and shade.

I’ve never thought of the waiting as windy and wild. I’d always thought it’d be silent, the stillness of death.

Not peacefully quiet, but shockingly still. Like the ringing of tinnitus after auditory impact, or the breath that won’t come when the wind is knocked out and the diaphragm fails to function.

I hadn’t realized the earthquake that set the dead walking would likely be followed by tremors.

But of course this is how it happens—death and birth and life’s transformations. It is never a matter of darkness and light. It is always a process with time in between.

Image result for earth tremor

After a woman labors and gives birth to the child she has cared for and carried for 8 or 9 months, her work is not finished. Her task is not done. There is still the placenta to deliver, the expulsion to finish. Overlooked in its comparative ease to the labor of life, this third stage of delivery seals the end in utero life. During this process of completion, it is vital that the entire placenta is expelled, that no remnants remain of the life before life.

There’s a series of continued contractions, physical tremors reminiscent of birth. There is fluid and blood, the tearing of tissue and expulsion of cells. Standard symptoms include body-wide shaking and shivering, the very same feeling of being undone.

But we don’t speak of this moment. We skip straight to joy. To the wonder and crying of life freshly born.

And maybe we should. If life is so new and so loud that it begs our attention, maybe that’s where our focus should be. But just for today I want to sit in shaking of uneasy winds, in the tremors of terror, the uncertain now.

I want to hold space for those who are in between borders, in between homes, in between lives. I don’t want to amble too quickly from the deepness of death, which has so much to teach about how we should live.

I want to remember the women who walked to the tomb dressed in mourning and sorrow, eyes puffy from crying through nights without sleep.

Women at the Tomb of Christ, by Albert Baur, 1882

I want to show up to death with my spices and sadness, a curious witness without expectation.

I want to weather the tremors and ride out the storm.

Then I want to be shocked by the wonder of life.

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