Most of us, when we hear the word “resurrection” will think of Easter and Jesus’ return from the dead or the final judgment when all will rise from the dead. Perhaps it is because at the time a person dies, grief at the loss of someone dear blocks out other emotions. To find a way of keeping our focus on the resurrection each of us will experience would be, in my opinion, a great way of seeing beyond the bodily death. Our beloved parent, child or friend lives on.
Death is like birth. A baby spends 9 months in the mother’s womb developing a body that will be able to thrive on the earth. Then with much pain and trauma to both baby and mother, the child is born. We spend 50, 70, 99 years on this earth developing a soul that will be able to see God. Then with varying amounts of pain we will be birthed into the heavenly atmosphere leaving the people we loved and who loved us still in development. These people have been part of our spiritual development, and they will grieve at not being able to see us. But if the thought of the resurrection were daily reviewed, grief can be lessened.
Take look at the trees. In the winter the trees seem dead. In fact, a visitor from New Guinea remarked about how fortunate we were to have so much firewood at hand! She could not imagine these trees coming to life again in the spring. Happily she was still visiting in the spring and could see the “resurrection” of the trees.
We humans cannot see the resurrection of our loved ones, but we would do well to remember they will rise. They have spent their lives developing a spiritual life, even if they are not cognizant of doing it. We are here to prepare for heaven. Most of us will do a pretty fair job of it. Some of us will do a magnificent preparation. Others may not do so well. But what you end up with when the spiritual birthing time comes is what you have been developing all your life.
Some people have lived in an atmosphere that nurtured the spiritual development day by day. Maybe your home of origin was like that. Some people did not get conscious of the need to nurture his/her spiritual nature until adulthood. And there are some who never caught the need to nurture it.
Please note that I did not say religious life. The spirit, the soul, can be nurtured in many ways, sometimes without religion. If you equate religious with spiritual, you may have a different definition of spiritual.
I have heard of young persons who heard nothing of God or Jesus, but grew up with a strong sense that there was something more to life. Their way of living could put me to shame. Their sense of the spiritual was alive and strong, and that sense developed their souls even though they knew nothing of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, redemption. I often think if we could bring that knowledge to them, they would be saintly giants.
Reflecting on what our life is all about and how we are nurturing our souls for heaven will bring us to thoughts of our resurrection and will probably help strengthen our spiritual life.
Peace and Joy to all as we approach the magnificent resurrection of Jesus. It is because of HIM that we are assured about our own resurrection.
S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF has a background in education, child development, and family ministries, and her wisdom is now at work at Oldenburg Franciscan Center. She has worked as a teacher, school administrator, and as Director of Family Life Services for two dioceses. Sr. Sharonlu has long been an advocate for children and puts her heart into helping parents build and sustain healthy family relationships. One of her most memorable ministries has been with the people of Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, where her heart still lies.