In the face of death – new life

As my smart watch began to vibrate on my wrist I quickly looked down to see who was calling. It was an unrecognizable number so I kept doing what I was doing – coaching a girls’ high school basketball game. As the game ended, there was a brief huddle and then I stepped to the side to listen to the message on my phone. Shock and sadness came over me as I learned that one of our priests, Jeff Nelson, had suddenly died.

My emotions must have been apparent because seconds later one of the players said to me, “Coach, coach, coach! Are you okay? When is our next game?” I responded, “Yep, I’m fine. Our next game is at 2:20 – be ready 20 minutes before.” And before I finished she was running across the gym.

I, of course, was not fine.

The reality is, I feel pretty overwhelmed with death.  And I’m not alone in this. Every day it feels like someone or some situation close to me is involved in some tragic event.  Another shooting, another bombing, or even a truck driving through a crowd brings forth more death.

I am certainly, both personally and professionally, no stranger to death. In fact, as many of you know it has been a significant part of my narrative. I also am acutely aware that many, many people have consistently lived in much more violent realities than I do or have.  Yet for me, it just feels like death is around every corner.

A very wise spiritual director once shared with me that our lives are always somewhere in the Good Friday to Easter cycle. Sometimes it is “little deaths” like the loss of a job or leaving a community. Other times it is the “big deaths” as in the loss of a loved one. Yet as followers of Jesus, we know that death is not the end. Sometimes, albeit slowly, resurrection – new life – will flow anew.

This is our faith journey. This is our witness to the world. While Good Friday is part of the journey, the place where we live, the place we proclaim, is the eternal hope of Easter – of new life.

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