Early on the first day of the week, while it was still
dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. John 20: 1 (NRSV)
I subscribe to a daily email from Grow Christians which is an Episcopal website for a community of disciples practicing faith at home. I would like to say that I read it every day but I don’t. I am too busy. But when I feel I need inspiration I do read it and strangely, more often than not when I click on the article of the day, it is one written by my friend the Reverend Kit Lonergan who is a mother and also the Rector at St. James, Groveland, MA. I worked with her for three years when I was on staff at Christ Church, Andover. She is fun to work with, extremely creative and a wonderful preacher and writer. In her reflections, she merges Scripture and Jesus into her everyday life, often in a hilarious and quirky way. So recently when I felt a loss in my life and looked for comfort, I happened to yet again click on another article from Kit titled a Lenten swimming lesson. The gist of her reflection was that her five-year-old daughter was having a meltdown because she did not want to go to her swimming lesson. When Kit got down to the cause of the meltdown, she realized that her daughter was afraid to put her face in the water. So in her Kit-way, Kit decided that as her Lenten discipline, she would sign herself up for adult swimming lessons. Needless to say, her reflections on her experience were both hilarious and profound as she began to understand her daughter’s fears and recognized how hard and scary it is to be a beginner. Kit is a wonderful mother and is very courageous to jump into a pool during the winter months. I am grateful to Kit because I got to feel what that is like through her writing. Most importantly, if I had to write about being a beginner, I would probably reflect upon being in a beginner’s upholstery class and my storytelling wouldn’t have been as humorous.
So after reading her article, I reflected on my own experiences. Once I am no longer a beginner, it gives me confidence, a new perspective, and sometimes a useful skill. It also occurs to me, and perhaps to you, that as I get older many of my beginner moments come on the heels of a loss. Then it is not necessary that I learn to do something new, I have to learn how to live in a new way. So whenever I become a beginner again, which seems more and more often now, it takes me a while to accept that I am a beginner – I cling onto my old way of being as I grieve; sometimes it takes me a while to find an instructor – I search for moments of grace and guidance; sometimes I am impatient to move on – I learn that I am in control of very little and have to learn to trust the process. This is scary and yet transforming.
As we enter into this Eastertide season of seven Sundays, I think of Mary Magdalene coming to the empty tomb on that first Easter Sunday, carrying the burden of the loss of her dear friend. She came to anoint and prepare Him for burial, discovered He was no longer there and then meets Him in a new way. Mary Magdalene became a beginner that Easter morning; her whole life changed and she had to learn a new way of being. Easter is a season of the Church when we are all beginners and we learn how to live in this new beginning together. Transforming ourselves by grieving our old selves and then preparing to move forward to welcome our new selves. In our liturgy, the day we welcome our new selves is Pentecost, 50 days after the Feast of Easter, which will be on June 9th this year. This is the day that the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples and we are transformed from being beginners into becoming the Body of Christ on earth, the Church. I look forward to spending the seven Sundays of Eastertide together with you in this community of beginners!
May you face whatever beginnings come into your life and know that you are not alone, we, your Church community are here to walk with you.
I wonder where in your life right now you feel that you are a beginner?