I long ago fell out with the liberal Christian group or atheist who want to ask questions about how the resurrection really happened. Whether the talk is of “conjuring tricks with bones”, questions of the physicality of the resurrection, body snatching or the idea that some how Christ was in a coma. It is not that I want to argue with them, it just is not a question that I see as answerable or being really of interest. My God is certainly capable of doing it, whether he did or not is lost in the midst of times. What I am struggling with is why he did whatever he did.
First let me be honest where I am coming from. I do not want eternal life, thank you! The idea that my life might end and there be nothing more seems desirable. Indeed so desirable that if I had genuinely believed that was an option I would have been dead over twenty years ago. To me and I suspect some others with mental health problems, the simple act of existing feels wearisome. Do not get me wrong, I can feel joy, can participate in events, join in celebration and enjoy a quiet read. But I know I will come back to reality of me and how tired I am of it. When I am down this tends to sap the energy to do anything. When I am moderate I find silence and low activity levels totally absorbing. When I am up as at present, it acts more as a fantasy.
Now I struggle with Easter in two ways. Firstly the tendency to view it as the “happy ever after” end to the story. In most atonement theories it looks as if Christ’s action on Good Friday was enough. The Easter Sunday is an add on that seems to be the implausible ending to make a happy ending. There is one exception and that is the exemplar of God’s love theory. The argument would go that Christ went through the worst of human experience, was given the option to not come back and did. When I meet that one, the resurrection to me becomes mind blowing, its just not something I can imagine myself doing. I am not sure that I love anyone enough to be given an out and still come back. It makes no sense and yet in some ways it shows me something I can only just grasp.
However having got that far, I then run into the talk of eternal life. You think this is good news, well to this individual it is not. My personal idea of Hell I suspect is pretty close to a continuation of this life with the daily task of existing. Yet on Easter day I am supposed to get excited about that. Well I am not and no amount of jumping up and down will make it so. Yes I have lost people I care about to death, but I also did not want to hold onto them, keep them here. My Grandparents on my father’s side were really quite cross with God for letting them live so long. People walk out of my life for a whole host of reasons and death is only one of them. I have learnt to accept that though they will not be replaced yet I will find new friendships and different ways of living without them.
Here are some things that might just appeal. If the resurrection means that there will be a final reckoning when we will face the total of our lives, when the injustice, cruelty and such will finally be called to account, I can actually see something worthwhile in that. I need to face the hurt and pain I have caused to others, to not do so is to be deluded about who I am. I do not expect it to be pleasant but I do expect the integrity that goes with it to be a good worth savouring.
However there is another thing that I feel that if I could glimpse more than just mentally stretch towards might somehow make it and that is the experience of living a life shaped absolutely by the worship of God. Do not get me wrong I do not mean one where all day every day is a praise service. Our worship of God is wider and deeper than that. I mean one where for a while I am simply caught up in living so as to honour God. To focus not on existing but on the creator. I occasionally get moments of wonder, but the wonder is fleeting and I move on, as if nothing has happened. I want the tensions that seem part of living to be resolved for a short while and somehow they never are. Therefore if somehow I can imagine that eternal life is to be the briefest of flickers in the molten love of God and caught up in the heavenly praise then I begin to find images of eternal life that promise me not the endless dull tiredness but a relief from having to exist.