People of the Tomb

by Guest Blogger August 04, 2016

By Alexandra Barylski

Perhaps like me, your family divides, the turbulence of recent events pushing old conversations to a boiling point. Possibly, you decided it was time your parents, your in-laws, your siblings, old friends – those close to you by blood and time – knew where you stood in support of dearly beloved people in your life. And of course it was far too left, too open-handed, and liberal. Un-biblical.

The political landscape continues to gully itself – you on one side of this rushing river and loved ones on the other. First static-shash. Then radio silence.

More than one person in my life is this situation: desiring a relationship with family members who think differently than them but who can not accept their positions on current events. I know that I am as firm in my beliefs as they are to theirs. I understand that they can not – or will not – change their minds as surely as I can not and will not change mine.

My point is not that one party needs to be convinced of some truth. I am less concerned about who among us is correct or who might win an argument. Anyway, I do not believe our positions on these social events boil down to well-constructed arguments, though I am not suggesting we abandon reason. However, what I observe is that, often an individual’s stance is determined by relationships and how policies impact people a person cares for. This is mostly irrational in the way that grace is irrational.

What I want more than anything, what I know many others in my life want, is to move beyond division to a place of understanding. But for now, we are called to be people of the tomb.

My priest has used this phrase often in the time since Easter. Coming from a more Evangelical background, it was a concept that both confused and elated me. Most of my life was spent in churches that focused on the resurrection, not Christ’s time in the grave. And yet.

It is the tomb that precedes the offer of reconciliation. Blood, agony, separation, darkness —these are made ours in Christ. We, too, are not only allowed but called to this burial space. A space of loss and hurt and certainly one that is going to last far longer than three days.

What we perceive as the victory, a triumph of love and grace may only arrive after a period in the crypt that separates. I read Christ’s resurrection differently as age introduces more and more loss into my life. I see the disciples struggle to immediately identify a man they lived and labored with. I see Christ trying to assure them because he will leave. Who among us could prepare themselves for this double-parting of death and ascension? Not me.

We are called to be people of the tomb because we are called to be a people familiar with loss, for just as Christ’s buried body is the precedent for resurrection so too hurt is restoration’s antecedent. And without the power of the resurrection what would any of us have? Of course we would prefer relationships not break. We would prefer people not leave us. But bonds are broken and in that time we are called to kneel graveside with our grief and anger. We are called to pray at the site of estrangement. We are called to hold dearly to the hope of return, of someone we love come back to us.

 Alexandra Barylski is an educator of reading, writing, and (soon!) yoga. She is currently working on writing projects about living with Lyme and auto-immune diseases. Her poetry appears in The Mackinac, Entropy, Ithaca Lit, Porter Gulch Review, Ruminate, and Phoebe. She was a finalist for the 2016 Greg Grummer Poetry Prize and the recipient of the 2015 Morton Marcus Poetry Prize. Prose appears at T.S. Poetry, Between the Lines, and Sick Pilgrim.

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