On The Celebration Of The Resurrection
“What is the standard of review applicable to a motion for summary judgment?”
I am afraid to try to answer because I am certain that I will throw up if I open my mouth. I didn’t review this. What were the odds they would ask this – rather than something related to the applicable facts or the pertinent cases?
And for that matter – what am I even doing here? Why am I standing in the middle of a moot court competition when I want nothing whatsoever to do with litigation. I hate public speaking. Heck – I hate even speaking in class. Why had I caved into the competition of law school and thrown my hat in this ring when it had nothing to do with anything I wanted to do?
In the midst of these thoughts, the words come from a place I didn’t know existed.
“There – there - are no genuine issues of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
“Very good. You may go on.”
To this day, I can’t tell you how I got the answer right.
* * *
Today is Easter.
The day we celebrate the resurrection.
I rode my bike to church today – weaving through Richmond’s spring colored streets. As I made my way under budding branches and past blooming bulbs I came to the realization that I have no idea what happened last Easter. Was it during chemo? It must have been. Did I even realize it was happening? There definitely weren’t any eggs or chocolate bunnies around here. Maybe I just slept through it – surrounded by a fog of nausea and abdominal pain and an aching deep in my soul.
I never know when to expect these things – these memories of a year ago. But they hang over me when they float to the surface. They sit and remind me and I need to spend time with them. Let them know its okay they are here. But that life is very different now. And we don’t live there anymore.
That heap of ash has become something new.
* * *
“I don’t know why you think your voice doesn’t matter,” he tells me as we sit in his tiny office – one tucked away in the higher elevations of the law school building. “You are just as smart as everyone else in that room. And you have something to say.”
This would be the moment that one of my law school classmates has described as the one when I went from a quiet, shy girl to a woman who wouldn’t keep her mouth closed.
When I registered for the class it was because it was the only way I could sneak a theology course into my law school curriculum. As a bonus, it was a paper class, which meant no final exam. And – surprise – writing is kind of my thing.
But I had miscalculated in registering because, as I quickly learned, paper courses come with a pesky little requirement for those of us who don’t like speaking up.
A participation requirement.
I was running the risk of ruining a pretty decent GPA due to my inability to talk. So out of necessity, I learned to speak.
I always tell people that the greatest thing law school gave me was a means to overcome my painful shyness.
It happened in that one moment – in that tiny office.
* * *
A friend reminded me last week that Easter should have special significance for me from here on out.
Because my physical body very nearly died. From cancer. From chemo.
Because God brought me through the darkest night of my soul. A type of emotional and spiritual death all its own.
I died a million ways in 2016.
I died. And now I am rising.
* * *
“Just remember this – you know the case better than anyone else in that courtroom. Better than opposing counsel. Better than the judge.”
I am a second or third year associate and I am preparing for my first hearing. Somehow, after all plans to the contrary, I have found myself practicing as a litigator.
If you had told me when I applied to law school that I would specialize in appellate advocacy after all was said and done, I would have laughed at you. If you told me I would frequently argue before a panel of judges without the aid of any notes, I would have withdrawn my application. There was no way verbal discourse with folks I address as "Your Honor" ever seemed like something I would rate among my favorite things to do.
But its true. Somehow, the girl who wanted to throw up in the conference room during her first moot court argument now considers her favorite days those where she enters a courtroom.
It never occurred to me that God might have been using all those courtrooms for something more.
* * *
Just before Stephen began his sermon today, this verse found its way onto the screen:
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.
I don’t know that there is a more perfect verse from scripture to describe what resurrection means to me this year. I know its supposed to be about Christ dying for our sins and all that, but it feels like it is about something so different to me. I think it always will.
If I have learned anything in the last year, its that resurrection has to do with a whole lot more than our “sins” (goodness I hate that word).
We talk a lot about redemption. This idea that God saves us from our sins. From ourselves in a way. That He brings good from the bad. Joy from the sadness.
I don’t love the idea of redemption though. Or maybe its that I don’t like the idea of redemption on its own. In my experience, God doesn’t simply redeem the evil, the sad, the broken, the weary.
He resurrects those people. Those things. Resurrection is bigger, it seems to me. It’s the thing that He can do in the darkest, loneliest, bleakest of spaces. Redemption isn’t enough for those things. Heck –if you ask me, it may not even be applicable.
There are some hurts too big even for redemption.
If you ask me, that’s where resurrection comes in.
* * *
Yesterday I stood on a stage and shared the story of last year. I let God choose the words and felt that deep knowing – that this is where I belong. This is what I should be doing. This is the story He has given me and that it needs to be told. That even the parts that make come Christians uncomfortable - the parts about past lives, and lineage energy, and our emotions living within our physical being - need to be shared as a gift He has provided.
As I settled into the airplane last night, emotionally and physically exhausted, I wrapped my blanket around me and pulled my headphones on. I scrolled through my playlist until I found the song I would go to time after time when I was unsure where God was taking me last year. When I needed reminder that the burning wasn't the end.
Finally finding it, I closed my eyes.
By Your spirit I will rise
From the ashes of defeat
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me
In your name I come alive
To declare Your victory
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me
* * *
I am currently living in the space where memory and hindsight are entwined. The space where I am lurched back only to more fully understand what it is that I am wandering toward. Ashes still cling to my feet and fall out of my pockets even as I am rising higher and further away from that cocoon space where everything burned right down. What crumbed under the weight of disease and heartbreak, doubt and fear is slowly being shaped into something not of my design. Something far afield from any plan I ever drafted. Something divine, sacred, new.
Song: “Resurrecting” - Elevation Worship