That first call was from the hospital.
Right about the cracking dawn on Resurrection Sunday, her whispering on the other end of the line.
Two weeks so far. Not that we all aren’t counting or anything. Who knows how many more weeks my sister has in front of her, how many more clattering hospital trays of soggy toast and watery jello and runny eggs?
Takes about 40 weeks to unfurl the plumped soul of a baby. She’s got about 9 more weeks to pass of laying there in the stiffness of a dead woman, not moving, so she can birth a life. Strange, how bed rest can make it sore hard to find the rest of God.
There are five little girls at home (or here. or at my mama’s) who keep counting every day their mama’s laugher’s not with them.
I tell my sister we’re setting the table for her 5 and her good man to join our ridiculous 6 for Resurrection Sunday dinner and I’ve already got the two legs of lamb in the oven. Oh, c’mon, what kids don’t like a platter of leg of lamb?
Our kids straggle in from barn chores, and I’m a banshee telling them to hurry to be in time for church because only amateurs hurry, and yeah, there are days when I am sadly the reigning losing queen of amateur.
“And if you’re ready to go, Levi, clean up your room and then finish up setting the table — 11 kids, 4 adults — 15 place settings.” I’m madly squeezing garlic through a press like a woman desperate to squeeze her life right dry. Pans of roasted potatoes wait patiently for their seasoning by sprinkling. There are pans of patience waiting in the midst of every oven.
Then some kid howls bloody murder.
Like all hell can really just break loose on Resurrection Sunday morning.
Like he’s screaming and there’s this stream of blood draining from his hand and dripping across the plank floor and what in the wounded world?
How in the world do you turn around and go from a call from the hospital to 15 for dinner to clean your room and get ready for church to a bloody mess pooling on the kitchen floor?
“Yeah, we’ve got to go into ER.” The Farmer’s got Levi’s bleeding hand in his. “His finger’s cut about half way through, right there at the tendon.”
“I just . . .” Levi’s choking it out, “I just picked up that helicopter blade on the floor of my room . . .”
“See?” Malakai’s muttering. “Told you that having to clean up your room is dangerous to your health.”
Parental glare-down of younger brother.
Yeah, these are all our monkeys, and yep, definitely our circus.
The Farmer heads east in the pickup truck, toward town and the hospital, Levi hunched over his hand bound up in this towel.
And I head west in the van, toward a little country chapel with the 5 other kids with their vainly smoothed down rooster tails and cock-eyed collars, to sing about the Man who unfolded from the grave bandages and walked out of the death clothes that bound us all.
We’re the last ones in the service, 15 minutes late. Because always.
Because the whole congregation is belting out 10,000 reasons for my heart to find, Bless the Lord Oh My soul, and I dial my sister.
Turn it to speaker phone and raise the worship and the wounded high and she sings with us from a hospital bed and there are tears that taste like salted glory.
I have no idea what verse we’re crescendoing through when Archie Bonsma’s pager sirens in the middle of Diane Goodkey’s piano notes.
And all six-feet-three-inches of Archie Bonsma flings down the aisle, his lanky hand trying to muffle the shrieking pager right out the back door of the chapel.
Everybody glances at each other, hoping no one notices, because Archie Bonsma’s a volunteer fireman.
And somewhere on Resurrection Sunday morning there are flames and a pillar of smoke and a life burning down.
And Archie Bonsma flung out of his 10,000 Reasons to go put a fire out and become someone else’s reason, and my sister’s in my raised hand on speaker phone still, singing from her hospital bed with Diane Goodkey on the piano.
And the Farmer and Levi are sitting in an ER waiting room in town, waiting on a doctor and stitches because we’re gashed open and haemorrhaging a bit here and there is a fire in bones that you can’t put out.
Because we know that whatever stone that’s been trapping, whatever boulder that’s been blocking, whatever rock that’s been locking — we know our God heaves stones because He loves and we know our God tears off grave clothes because He resurrects and we know our God upends to right.
We are the Resurrection People who know that hope can rise from the dead places
and that impossible stones can be rolled back to light
and right now all the sad things are becoming undone.
No matter how the world turns, there’s no turning that stone back now.
We’re the Resurrection People and we won’t live like that stone’s been rolled back. We won’t live like it isn’t the truth: The sad things are all becoming undone now. There’s no turning that stone back now. There’s no turning back now.
What’s been wearing death clothes in a life can get up and walk, what we’ve felt as wounds, by His wounds, are being healed, what’s being burnt to ashes will birth beauty. Ashes are always the papery birth announcement of beauty rising.
Us bound in that sin that’s always been, us with that heartbreak that just won’t take a break, us who feel locked up in these patterns and someone’s thrown away the key — we’re the people who’ve seen that the stone’s been rolled away.
We’re the Resurrection People who push back against the dark of impossible, because we’ve seen the impossible stone’s been pushed back against the dark. We’re the Resurrection People who walk in strong hope because we’ve seen the strong stones moved and Hope come right out to meet us and move us.
We’re the Resurrection people who believe that we can turn back, that people can turn back, that situations can turn around, because we’ve seen that stone’s been rolled back.
Nothing and no one is impossible now
because impossible stones have now been rolled away.
And sure, let the rest of the folks go ahead and pack up their Easter decorations and turn the calendar page over and roll up the banners and swags, but there’s this Resurrection People who aren’t going back to before and we refuse to live like that stone’s been rolled back.
He is alive and He is risen and I’m going to keep that on the chalkboard and keep saying it over the burnt pots and the overflowing sinks and I’m going to keep singing it like a refrain: He is Risen Indeed— because I want Him to be risen in me.
I’m standing there singing on Resurrection morning with a bleeding kid in ER and a preeclampsia sister in the hospital and the sister and the singing are held high in my hand on speaker phone, a broadcast of defiant worship out into a world that feels like it’s burning down and I’m blinking it back:
We’re the Resurrection People and the brave Hosanna is our forever song.
The way we roll — is that the stone’s been rolled away.
I make dinner for 15, and Levi comes home with his swollen hand and stitches and the arm of his father around his shoulder, and Archie Bonsma puts out that fire.
Levi eats his lamb with one hand held over his head to help hush the loud throb.
I text my sister pictures of her girls and she texts me back tears from a hospital bed.
At the end of the Resurrection Sunday, before the real beginning again, the kids and all the cousins gather close and sing it again, 10,000 Reasons, bless the Lord, oh my soul, though we’re pretty sure there are more than 10,000 Reasons, and we’ll be singing them off key and loud for all eternity.
They say that the most hilarious line in the Bible is Pilate speaking about Jesus’ tomb: “Go, make it as secure as you can.”
Good luck with that.
Because the thing is:
We now get to live secure through family messes and wearying trials and bloody places because nothing could secure that tomb.
We can live secure through anything now because nothing could secure that tomb.
And I scrawl it across on a chalkboard on the Monday: The way we roll — is that the stone’s been rolled away.
The sun slants warm across the lawn, across the planked floors, and I go ahead and just leave a stone out on the counter, there by the worn out old cutting boards.
The practice of your faith every day is the practice of resurrection in everything.
And the light keeps lifting the dark right there across the cut up old cutting boards, like a cracking back of the black.
Question for U: We’re the Resurrection people who believe that we can turn back, that people can turn back, that situations can turn around, because we’ve seen that stone’s been rolled back. Let’s be a community and resource to cheer each other on to happier living, loving, and parenting! Jump into the comments and offer hope to another:
What verse, what song, what comfort? What really works for you to practice your faith every day?
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