by Dr. Beverly Wallace

After he died what really happened is she watched the days bundle into thousands, watching every act become the history of others, every bed more narrow,

But even as the eyes of lovers strained toward the milky young,

She walked away from the hole in the ground deciding to live.

And she lived.

“She Lived” is the title of the poem written by the poet Lucille Clifton read to me by Hebrew Bible Scholar Peter Nash at the memorial service for my late husband. Peter taught at our Lutheran Seminary EST in Sao Leopoldo, Brazil. When Peter died, I promised his student Selenir, that the work of Identity that he started there would continue. Ela Viveu (She Lives)  continue today with the work of addressing anew the need of the community there, expanded to address concerns of women and that of new refugees in that context coming from Haiti and Venezuela.

What does this have to do with those of us who are living or trying to live after experiencing trauma?

Over and over again in our sacred texts we call the Bible, we read and hear the refrain, we failed.

In the book Jeremiah, a new covenant is needed because the people seemed to fail – the old covenant was broken and so they failed. In the Psalm, David cries out because he knew he failed. In Johns’ gospel again the people failed.  And because the people failed, Jesus’  soul is troubled.  Jesus dies. What a traumatic experience this was for all that followed him. He died and so what were they to do?

Some took flight for fear that they would be captured. Some feared out of the for fear of their own death. Some just froze. All of these are trauma responses. There was a death. And there was a period of grieving and fear. But then there was a resurrection.

We are still in the season of Easter. We are reminded each year of the death ant the resurrection of the one who looked to God for all of his strength, recognizing that part of his death was caused by human failure. And Jesus response: forgive them, for they do not know what they do. Uncertainty of purpose. Human failure.

Yet even what seems to be human failure, there is a move, perhaps what I might call a “Sankofa Move” for the people to look back to see their misteps, knowing they are only human, as is the title of an old India.Aria song, there is a need to lament, to see what they have lost, and then in time to move forward.

The Jesus of the Gospel of John is never at home. The Jesus of all the gospels is always on the move.  He’s on a pilgrimage, something we are hearing Dean Rimmer remind us of that we are about to embark upon but in reality, we have been on for a very long time.

Jesus had been on a pilgrimage from the time he was born, and even BEFORE he was born, Jesus has been on the move.

He was on the move and on a mission, sent by God, to retell a story of the goodness of our God.

Jesua, our brother, understood, that from the time he was born, that he was to die. That’s the case with all of us. But what do we do in the time we live? Do we get settled in what we think is our permanent residence, not recognizing our home is over Jordan? And what do we do with this one most precious life?

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article about the church during the time of the Pandemic entitled, “The Tragic Vision of the Church during the Time of the Pandemic – Everything is Going to Be Alright”.

In that piece, I suggest, using the theory of Ambiguous Loss, that as a colleague of mine, Michael Johnson understood, some people and communities have always lived with the ambiguity of life, what Johnson calls the tragic vision. In that Johnson is not saying that the Black Church is tragic, but as African ascendent folk we understood that death is always in front of us. We live with the recognition of the fragility of life, seeing the abyss, and that facing death, we knew, that everything was going to be alright and so we live.

Jesus, in this still season of Easter, reminds us. And so I am here to remind you too: as in the life and death of Jesus, even when his soul and when our souls are troubled and even in the messiness of life, be reminded that everything is gonna be alright and so we live.