There is something about death. It sticks to the roof of our mouths as we whisper it to one another. Death is a word covered in the smut of an overused chimney – full of ash and lack of oxygen. Personally, death feels like an ending.
What if this perception of death isn’t actually fruitful, helpful or true?
Enter life / death / life cycle.
Recently, I’ve been reading out loud to my partner every night Women Who Run With The Wolves and it has been doing something magical to my perception of death, healing and faith. Yes, something has my gears feeling awake again.
My faith feels like that ash filled chimney. I’m choking on guilt of adolescent evangelical upbringing and why don’t I feel God in my body, around me and in this walk called discernment.
The answer isn’t so hard to find. Cue highlight reel of not so great things: Last year I was violently attacked & lived leading to my diagnosis of PTSD, accepted into grad school lacking a faith community home, went deeper into deconstruction of faith semantics and family dynamics of origin.
In two weeks I start seminary and God feels like a distant fairy tale character in a book I no longer read. I am battered and limited on supply. And, for the many, this could look like a death season.
What is death season?
Inner monologue: I’m doing something wrong and it’s caused my spirit to die. If I don’t replenish soon I will die and then it’s over. Life as a Christian is over and I’m never getting back to where I once was – sound like a familiar narrative to you?
As a society we have drenched loss in sacristy and painted death as negative. From a faith context, death is painted as the entry to life. So why does it feel like life won’t be found when we are deathly low on resource? Or, when we might be dying spiritually?
We need oil to light our lamp. Sometimes that supply is dwindling. It is not of our own fault or creation – it is simply the life/death/life cycle of living. And, God knew this cycle to be true. Right now I’m processing so much because of this renewal of death. Biblically speaking, I’m looking at resurrection and the creation story differently.
We came from life so that we might live, die and live again.
In order to move into something new then something else must die and this is painful and it’s not a fast-moving transition. But life emerges from death – still.
In Women Who Run With The Wolves there’s this excerpt that has really helped me lessen the death grip on the urgency of how my Christian faith is in utter disarray and I need to figure it out right now. I want to share it and then unpack it a bit:
“Nature does not ask permission. Blossom and birth whenever you feel like. As adults we need little permission but rather more engendering, much more encouraging of the wild cycles, must more original vision…the life/ death / life forces are part of our own nature, part of an inner authority that knows the steps, knows the dance of life and death…’dame la muerte que me falta’… Give me the death I need.” – Women Who Run With The Wolves
What does it mean to you to unleash your inner authority to live into the wild of daring to let die what must and live through it?
Healing is not linear and it is forever. It teaches us. And, life emerges from it. It’s the life/death/life cycle at work.
It’s not what we must make of it, but how it will make a new way through with us.
If you’re embracing healing or facing the journey through harm, know that if you somethings must die it isn’t the end of you. It is once more a new beginning.
It is a continued resurrection of the development of your humanity and spirituality.
I do believe we carry our harm with us for life, but something else comes out of death and that is life. Death is a friend. Let die what must and maybe it will come again next Spring, but for now you deserve to blossom no matter the season. Whether it is covered in darkness or lack of resource, you still deserve to blossom there and that doesn’t have to look full and bright.
Currently my heart lives outside of my chest exposed, bleeding, exhausted and in need of oxygen; of movement. And as it pumps from one chamber to the next – with every breath – life and death to life again is happening. And there inside the chambers of life and death is God.
There inside my heart she is feverishly workmen to pump life from one chamber to the next. She’s move death to resurrection – anew. She’s in my breath giving me pause before next steps. She’s moving my feet towards a call I can’t describe. She’s in my body building up muscle to move through PTSD and harm. She’s whispering to me, “child I’ve got you. You can yell, be angry with me, cry or be still… I will be working in the dark to bring you life.”
I believe that inside the darkness is our greatest life; our greatest renewal. May it be so and may we all have peace. May we know that inside our moments of utter darkness something new is coming. Let us have the wild nature to release what is causing harm to wilt for another time and continue our re-birth time and time again. What a delicate dance; what a burden we do not have to walk alone.
I’m here for the wild nature of our living & God’s embrace in the breath of our life/death/life cycle. That is enough. No grand gesture needed in the deepening of my faith – just breathing.
Breathe easy, friends.
Death is a friend.
Rachael Ward is passionate about storytelling and loving people well. Rachael’s work is an honest journey in reclaiming their queer mind, body & spirit while forever redefining what it means to love people and God well. They write often at the intersection of belief and healing. Rachael believes that within our stories lies the beginning of liberation from harm – that the power to reclaim, move through and become is within our collective voice. They are involved in a body of work in the greater Atlanta area devoted to LGBTQ Inclusion within the Church. Presently, Rachael is a candidate for a Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Practical Theology from Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta, GA.