Faith is not the activity of cosmically acquiring anything, or of packing our bags for a holy teleportation to a distant place at a time somewhere in the future. Rather, it is the process of leaning into the unknown and trusting in a love greater than we can understand. Faith is actively participating in our own resurrection.
Though we may not realize it, the sequence of death and resurrection is continually happening. Not just once at the end of our life, but more of a cycle, like the seasons. It’s a fundamentally simple occurrence. The universe resonates with it. But, to have a resurrection there must first be a death, a winter before the spring, and then an emerging from the dark, an awakening. An acorn, for example, does not pop up above ground as a new acorn, simply changing location. It undergoes a transformation through its death, to realize its resurrection as a tree.
It’s important to realize that this transformation is happening to that-which-is-being-resurrected, not to the circumstances. We change, not the world around us. It is not a quick change of location for ourselves, rather it is a continual change of ourselves, demanding that we are in some way fundamentally re-made. And, herein lies the difficulty. We love the idea of a resurrection that fixes the circumstances around us, one that takes us intact to a more hospitable location, rather than one which requires embodying change in ourselves.
The question then is, if it’s not necessarily a change of location, if the Kingdom of heaven is actually among us here, why do we avoid it? Even though we say we are longing for it, it seems that we really don’t want it. Instead, we think perhaps later it may be OK, as a change of location, but, close up, in the present, it seems to go against our grain, and we are afraid of what it contains. Re-birth or resurrection, after all, is difficult for the acorn. We are actually afraid of letting go, afraid of the consequences of heaven, here and now, where God steps in and we are no longer in control. It is perhaps exactly what we fear about the end of our life on earth, that we are not in control, and we want to put that off as long as possible.
But, this fear is what keeps us trapped, and leaves us wishing, hoping to be transported intact, just as we are, to a heaven, off somewhere else, in the future. It isolates us from any actual hope for a rescue in our present circumstances, and leaves us instead, fearing the worse, that an imminent resurrection could be our total undoing. What if I find myself freed from, separated from, something that I didn’t want to let go of? What if the perceptions of my importance are in fact misconceptions that will fall like a line of dominoes as I adjust to the consequences of the new? We only know about the promise of the tree above. We aren’t given the opportunity for a test drive. We only know that we will no longer be an acorn underground. We can’t imagine ourselves as anything other than what we are now. We can’t see the tree standing in the wind, soaking up both the sun and the rain.
Because of our limited vision, because we can’t see above ground as it were, we find it difficult to unclench our hold on the familiar, and on the hopeful expectation that things around us will become more hospitable. But, if we can adopt this concept of resurrection, if we can accept this promise of new, and if we can embrace the fact that a fundamental re-tooling of ourselves is taking place, we will discover the transformative freedom in the resurrection process itself, where we can lean into the loving unknown and actively participate in heaven among us.