Sunday, April 20, 2014

He Is Risen

(originally published in Mouth Magazine, reprinted in "A Real Nice But: articles that inspire, inform and infuriate, from Diverse City Press)

Snow fell, four inches deep. Sweeping it off the car was not the way to celebrate Easter and usher in a new season.

My feelings were jumbled from a conversation days earlier. I had been consulted on the rape of a young woman with a disability.

We were faced with the fact of the rape, the fact that the courts wouldn't believe her and that society doesn't take crimes against people with disabilities seriously. The day was a hard one. At the end of the day I was challenged.

The staff who had been there almost from the moment of the rape and through all the events that followed, mocked me. She asked, "How can you believe in God, in Jesus, in Easter? How can you believe that whole story of death and resurrection? How can you not see that it was simply a story built to explain and humanize the magic of Spring.

"How can you look into the eyes of a woman, raped and brutalized, and say that you believe in a compassionate God?

"Fool." She actually called me a fool.

Driving to church, I desperately looked for signs of spring. It became important for me to see a bud, some green, or hear the sound of even one bird. No colour, no sound, just the white of new snow. Easter. Spring. Hope.

How can I believe?

I thought of her, a woman with Down Syndrome who trusted too often, too quickly, staring at me when I asked her to tell me what happened.

I have no trouble believing in the betrayal of trust. I know that some early Judas could betray a man who trusted too often, too quickly. I know that the world is full of those who simply can't be trusted. I know that friends can hurt and family can bruise. I have no trouble believing in the betrayal of trust.

Turning the corner towards the church, I turned on the car radio for distraction and heard that the trust fund to liberate a man who murdered his daughter because of her disability had reached a significant amount. I heard that support for his cause was strong.

I heard that a young boy with a disability had to fight for a lung that the hospital thought would be wasted on him. I heard that when it was announced that the transplant would be done, members of his town, his province, tore up their organ donor cards not wanting to save the undeserving.

I thought of her eyes. Eyes that knew, instinctively that the law just wasn't there for her. A society that sees murder as kindness for those who are disabled will not care much if one is otherwise brutalized.

I have no trouble believing in the hatred of the crowd. I know that people often call for the death of an innocent. I know that society can be convinced to hate those who are blameless. I know that millions will march lock-step behind any who preach of an Aryan race. I have no trouble believing in the hatred of the crowd.

She told the story with quiet and calm. She told her story again and again. First to us. Then to the police. Then to the doctors. She told of how the man had hurt her. How he had forced her to the floor. How he had made her take off her clothes. How he had pierced her. Her eyes filled with tears the third time she told the story. I thought the tears would never stop.

I have no difficulty believing in crucifixion. I know that there are those who pierce flesh with bullets. I know that there are those who would pierce hearts with vicious words. I know that there are those who would pierce souls with messages of hatred and bodies with iron rods of power. I have no difficulty believing in crucifixion.

There it ends. I know that Christ was killed, blameless. Snow falls on Easter. Spring buds hid from the cold. Parking, I cried. "Fool." I had been called a fool.

I remember hearing that the doctor stood her on a cloth and had her strip. Her body searched as they prepared evidence. Her pubic hair combed, the wounds inside her measured and documented, hair pulled from her body to be matched.

Then, thus ritually "cleansed" of evidence, she was bundled into sheets and then taken home. She had finally run dry of tears. She allowed herself to be bathed and then lifted to her bed. She dropped into sleep as if dead.

I have no trouble believing in death. I know that death comes as a relief to most who struggle through this life. I know that most die crucified in one way or another by cruelty, indifference or pain. I know that for those who commit suicide, death is the portal to a world free of hurt. I have no trouble believing in death.

Remembering the phone ringing the next morning I had woken from a troubled sleep. Sleep filled with anger and hate. I heard her voice. She was up, refreshed and strong. She said that she didn't care if the police didn't believe her. She said that she wanted to go to court and tell the world what he did to her. She said that she wanted everyone to know that she was not a liar.

She said that even if he goes free he will know that she knows. She spoke so clearly that  I couldn't hear her disability through the complex notions of which she spoke.

Tears again. I felt ... Joy? Sadness? I don't know. But for the first time I understood Easter. I understood Spring. I understood Hope.

The miracle of Easter is not that Christ died for His beliefs. We have sacrificed ourselves since the dawn of time. We can all imagine dying for at least one principle.

No, the miracle is not that Christ would die. The miracle is that he would want to rise! The miracle is that he would get up and go on. The miracle is that into a world where there is betrayal, hatred, crucifixion and death, he would rise again.

The miracle is that a woman, despised by society and brutalized by one she trusted could get up in the morning and go on. Resurrection. Rising again.

Maybe I am a fool. But I see a woman rising on the day after rape as resurrection. I believe that Christ wanted us to know that there is always hope. There is always a reason, every day, for rising. Resurrection.

I opened the car door and stood. Hope, to go on again, resurrected for the thousandth time into my own life.

Come, spring.


Anonymous said...

"...someday somehow, so it's hard to believe now -
love is gonna rise again..."
(Joshua Kadison)


thank you for this post!


Anonymous said...

That is truly one of the most powerful things I have ever read!

Belinda Burston said...

Thank you for this beautiful Easter post, relevant to here and now.
He is Risen.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the powerful post. Yes, the miracle is that he choose to come back for us. Each one, every one.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Dave.

Anonymous said...

passing this on.

Anonymous said...

I usually read your blog every day. I'm actually glad I didn't see this one until Monday. It was too powerful for me to be able to comment. Even now, all I can say is "Thank you".

Anonymous said...

Thank you Dave. For believing, trusting and supporting.

Shan said...

This was amazing.