We human beings are what we are in and through our relationships with an extensive and perhaps even infinite web of beings. This is a fragile and tremulous web, and our belonging to it means that any rupture in it, any loss, any passing, any tearing, wounds us. When these ruptures are deep and intimate, we suffer more than wounds. Relational creatures, faced with rupture, are compelled to die--die to their former selves. That is just what it means to be creatures who are made up of each other. We must learn to die often and die well.
Confronted by this irrevocability, we must grieve. Grieving is a baptism and tears the font in which we must be immersed. It is the work of experiencing loss when we would rather bypass it. Grieving is the work of dying to what once was and will no longer be again. Without suffering that baptism, there can be no new life.
But there is always that fear, the fear that entering into grief will be a permanent condition, that grief will lead to a drowning that issues in no new birth.
The danger announced by such fear is real. There is a kind of drowning after which nothing emerges. The vise grip of suffering appears to afford no release. Sadly, we all know those for whom grief was final. The grieving self and grief itself become so inseparable that ending grief is felt to require the end of the one who grieves.
But there is another drowning, the kind out of which something new can emerge. This second drowning may in fact be the more complete, a dying so thorough that the only thing that can emerge on the far side has to be something unforeseeable, something unexpected and unpredictable. Faith is the courage that something on that order of novelty just might emerge after loss and death. That is surely what we mean by resurrection.
But the "re" of "resurrection" is not like the re in "re-animation" or "re-stitution." The prefix misleads. The one who is resurrected is never quite the same as the one who died. It cannot be. There is an irrevocability to all genuine losses. And this is why we must grieve and grieve well.
The hope of resurrection can never be a naïve wish to recover what once was. To long and pray for resurrection is to hope that by grace the fabric of our lives, our being together, might take some new shape and texture that cannot now be seen or perhaps even sensed.
We can only do what we can to die as well and thoroughly as we might with the faith that some light will come from where we know not, and we will recognize that light because it will be marked by glory of love-- the binding together of what was torn asunder, beyond all our hopes and expectations.