Reconciliation is the dream of hope. We are to dream redemption until the day we die.
During this current season of eastertide, the church my husband and I attend in Seattle has been collecting stories of resurrection. This is one of such stories. Like the rhythm of the triduum (Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday), redemption is only possible because one has experienced death and the grave. This is a story of the relationship between death and resurrection, suffering and beauty, conflict and reconciliation; a rhythm that is so often unavoidable it can only be embraced. However, the beauty found in such a rhythm as Friday, Saturday, Sunday, is largely unknown until given an opportunity to experience it, and not just once, but over and again.
On such Fridays, we experience what could be described as the death of hope. In March of 2011, a death occurred in mine and my husband’s relationship with our former Pastor and his family. Several at our school describes themselves as having been ‘hurt by the church’. While my husband and I wouldn’t necessarily describe ourselves as such, in many ways, we do find ourselves located there. That is, as ones having been hurt and also having inflicted hurt on those whom we have disagreed, by our words, assumptions, distance, and silence.
Our Saturday of silence lasted for over a year, which is longer than my heart wants to admit. Saturday is characterized by silence, abandonment, disbelief, death, agony, grief, and tears. If you do not allow yourself to mourn during this time, the day has not served you well. There is something beautiful about the process from death to life that is unnoticed when rushed.
Last week, we began our journey toward Sunday; and reconciliation, the dream of hope, became feasible. Hope is often found in unexpected places. The span of silence was broken, and we began the long, hard work of moving from death to resurrection. Our words were carefully crafted so as not to inflict any more pain on one another than our already present wounds could bear. These words reminded one another of the love we once shared, and the goodness of the other that we had long forgotten. We realized that our need of one another was more than our need to agree.
In his book, The Wisdom of Stability, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove writes on the necessity of cultivating stability by rooting ourselves more intentionally in the place and people of our community; while acknowledging that conflict among those who do life together is inevitable. In the foreword, Kathleen Norris writes: “Sometimes the conviction that it is God who has brought two people—or a community—together is all we need to keep us in the struggle to nurture and maintain relationships of trust, respect, and love. Committing to such stability is never easy, but it is always worth a try.” Stability demands that when tempted to leave, we stay, and allow God to find us there. Likewise, with such stability is a commitment to seek reconciliation.
In retrospect, I wonder: “what would have happened if we had stayed?” If we had it to do over, given what we have learned, we wouldn’t have so easily left. Yet our journey through the pain of Friday, the silence of Saturday, and the resurrection of Sunday that has got us to this place was necessary for a deeper relationship of love and grace that we now have with this Pastor and his family.
If you have never given yourself to this rhythm, the fullness of my heart bears witness that reconciliation, whether with a church, friend or foe, is indeed sweet.
Reference: Wilson-Hartgrove, Jonathan. The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture. Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2010.