Saturday, March 26, 2016

Waiting for Easter

“The waiting is the hardest part.”
  ~~Tom Petty

Goddess knows, this can be true. The waiting is just so darn hard. As we sit on this Easter eve and the anniversary of the birth of my daughter Meghan whose death I write about in my book, Back to Happy,  I am pondering the season of Lent and the idea of resurrection. 

We do so love a good resurrection story.

Star Wars and The Matrix films (also a lot of American musical theatre) gave us some great modern day examples to work with. We love that resolution and that feeling of completion and optimism that a good strong happy ending has to offer. After a season of suffering, there is redemption. 

In a good piece of music there is variety in the score. There is harmony and dissonance and ultimately, resolution as the composer takes us home and allows us to sit with those last few notes and sense the finality, the closure. We are taken on a journey that touches our soul through the senses of the body.

In the Christian tradition of Lent, we are charged to examine the things in our lives that distract us from our connection to God and remove them if possible. We are called to repent and humble ourselves before the Lord with the knowledge that we are made from the dust of the Earth and destined to return there. It’s pretty brutal really. In essence we are to look squarely in the face at our mortality and see how it can inform us about our lives.

As we work toward Easter there is a tendency to rely on the resurrection story to unfold in an expected way. We know it’s coming so we don’t really worry too much. If we are optimists by nature, this idea of resurrection is ingrained into our psyche. We trust all will work out in the end, the resolution will come and we will find joy again. In the Jesus story the message is clear; have faith and even after the darkest of times the light is sure to shine again.

But waiting for the light to reappear can be really difficult. In Back to Happy, I write about healing from grief and loss and finding happiness again. The grieving process is a journey for sure. It takes time, and requires attention and intention to move through it with relative ease. Everyone must find their own way. There were days when I thought I would not ever feel joy again. The light at the end of the tunnel was often nowhere to be found. 

Much like grief, in addiction and recovery there is a process that must take place for the brain to rewire itself and, like grief, the process must run its course for it to be effective. In the waiting, if there is not promise of a final resolution, hope can be lost and despair can set in. Without the example of others who have traveled down the path of recovery successfully, addicts have little to hold onto during the recovery period. This is why the twelve step programs are so effective.  There is companionship for the waiting period, guides for the journey.  I have recorded several podcasts about addiction. Find them here.

When Happy Healthy You! podcast guest Mary Sidhwani was diagnosed with cancer, she had to face her own mortality. It was frightening for her as she spoke about in the interview. She was humbled and forced to reexamine her life in a deeper way. As a psychotherapist she knew she needed a shift in perception in order for her to deal with the challenge of cancer and to heal from the trauma of the diagnosis. 

How can we use the resurrection story in our lives to keep us moving toward the light, toward our eventual healing and also help us with the waiting? In her podcast, Dr. Sidwani gives us some great tips for dealing with the “shock and awe” of a trauma. In Back to Happy I list nine (hopefully) practical tips for moving through grief. There are so many other inspirational books, support groups, religious practices and healing modalities to help us move more gracefully through the period of waiting. The season of Lent offers its own wisdom for moving through dark times back into the light of resurrection.

During Lent we are tasked with the waiting. But we are to wait with a purposeful nature. We are to wait upon God, having removed from our life anything that might deter or distract us from divine presence. Sure we give up chocolate if the craving of it keeps us from thinking less about God and more about the hershey bar. But even more, we give up the ego addictions that keep us from forgiveness, charity and love. We are to accept the eventuality our own death with faith, knowing that even in that, we are redeemed, re-birthed, resurrected. Lent is waiting - on steroids.

Make your own the mind of Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, did not count equality with God something to be grasped. But he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming as human beings are; and being in every way like a human being, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross. 
                 ~~Philippians 2:3-8, Jerusalem Bible

Lent is a practice and I liken it to yoga. If we approach every yoga practice with a beginners mind, we are open to what the practice has to offer on any given day.  In tough poses we are asked to be with what is, tight muscles and all, and with each breath to be present to our divinity. When we come to Lent with a beginners mind, truly empty of expectation and open to whatever it has to teach us, we are reminding ourselves to wait well with purpose. We empty to make room for more light with the hope of healing, rebirth and resurrection. 

Namaste and Happy Easter!

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