Roller Coaster

Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes in the morning. ~ Psalm 30:5

I woke up in the morning to the rising sun. New green graces the tree outside my window and house wrens sing their morning prayers. It is the start of a good day. I sit down in my quiet chair and enter the stillness, and I say to myself, “Jesus said, ‘Peace, I leave you. My peace I give to you,’” (see John 14:27). I breathe slowly until my breath relaxes and deepens, and then peace finds room to enter.

After prayers, Angel and I walk down to Fahrenheit Coffee Roasters. Matt, the owner, says, “Good Morning Craig. The usual?” “Yes please. How are you this morning?” “O.K.” “O.K. is O.K.,” I say. The coffee is good and tastes even better as Angel and I walk around the park.

I talk to a few walkers, drink my coffee, gaze at the mountains while Angel sniffs every blade of grass, and eventually we make it back home. It is a good day. In my office, I check emails, return phone calls, and then I sit down to write the weekly meditation. “Wonder. Resurrection is full of wonder. How do we keep a sense of wonder as we grow older and lose our childlike curiosity? Can wonder find us in our everyday routines? How do we live in resurrection wonder?”

I write a few sentences and reread them. This is not working. I hit the delete button. I write a new sentence and stare at the computer screen. Eugene Peterson says in Living the Resurrection, “It’s not easy to convey a sense of wonder, let alone resurrection wonder, to another. Wonder can’t be packaged, and it can’t be worked up.”

I had a good morning, but I feel heavy like there is a weight pulling me under water. I don’t feel the lightness and the joy of wonder, but I am struggling to keep my eyes open. I shake my shoulders and stare at the blank computer screen for another thirty minutes. Nothing really sounds too good to me. Where did this numbness come from? It just appeared out of nowhere.

Since Jennifer’s medical diagnosis, the two of us have been on an emotional roller coaster. One of her good friends from high school gave us a room in her home to stay in while we made visits to doctors in Denver. A home full of love made our journey more possible. The doctor’s recommendations made us cry. Dinner with our son Ro and our niece Morgan gave us hope and joy. Healing cards and warm hugs remind us that we are not alone. Forthcoming loss steals our appetite. The roller coaster climbs slowly to a peak and then crashes into the depths and before we can catch our breath the car we are riding enters a sharp curve and we just hang on.

Yesterday, when I was trying to write a meditation, the roller coaster stopped for a moment, and when I stepped out of the car, I realized how tired and heavy I felt. I was comfortably numb. Sad.

Henri Nouwen writes, “If there is any word that summarizes the sorrows of life, it is the word loss. We are sad because of all that we have lost.”

“Think about our own losses right now—the many places in our life where we have lost something dear and life giving. We may have lost a friend to a sudden accident, a child to disease, a spouse to death. Maybe a longtime relationship came to a painful end. Someone we love deeply died suddenly. We may have lost our house or a job in troubled times. Because of emotional or physical abuse, we may feel broken. Whatever our loss, we are not alone in experiencing it.”

How do we live with our losses? Henri Nouwen asks, “When weeping lasts for a nighttime, does joy truly come in the morning (Psalm 30:5)?

When Mary Magdalene and the other Mary make an early morning visit to Jesus’ tomb, they are mourning. They saw Joseph place Jesus’ body in a tomb (Matthew 27:57-61). Do we take time to mourn our losses whatever they may be? Nouwen writes, “The world says just ignore it, be strong, don’t cry, get over it, move on. But if we do not mourn, we can become bitter. All our grief can go right into our deepest self and sit there for the rest of our lives.”

Jesus weeps when Lazarus dies. Mary Magdelene and the other Mary mourn Jesus’ death. Mother Mary must have wept deeply at the foot of the cross. “Those who cannot grieve cannot be joyful. Those who have not been sad cannot be glad. Quite often right in the midst of our crying, a smile comes through our tears.”

When the two Marys, deep in mourning, discover that Jesus has risen, their sorrow turns to joy. “The women, deep in wonder and full of joy, lost no time in leaving the tomb,” (Matthew 28:8 The Message).

I mourned. The next day, I went on my normal walk with Angel. When we crossed Main Street by the bank, the morning sun illuminated the large tree blooming in front of the Bauer House. It was a “certain slant of light” as Emily Dickinson wrote. The long branches reached towards the sun’s energy, an orb of brilliant light. Wonder finds us when we least expect it and lifts us up.

Nouwen writes, “The Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit of Love is given to us to embrace the reality of our  losses.” May we mourn our losses and may we stay open to resurrection wonder which moves us to life.

Blessings and peace,