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Reflecting on roadkill and resurrection

 

Mangled, maimed, dismembered. The bloody remains of the deer in the middle of the highway told a sad story. Not swift or adept enough to avoid the vehicle that came barreling down the road, it became a victim of the highway traffic.

That’s me, sometimes -- a bloody, disfigured, mutilated mess lying in the road of this life, turned to carnage by the challenge I found myself unprepared for or couldn’t avoid.

I could do nothing for the deer on the road; there was nothing left to save, no life left.

But that’s not the case in life. Maybe we’re unrecognizable, mangled messes from the challenges we encounter, but it’s not the end.

Perhaps we receive a medical diagnosis, maybe suffer the death or illness of a loved one, a job loss, divorce, an addiction -- whether our own or a loved one’s -- that leaves us feeling like life or circumstances have beaten us to a pulp, left us for dead.

In such dire times, it’s easy for the world to look and see just the mangled remains of us or our lives. Many dismiss us as roadkill, seeing the apparent lifelessness and hopelessness of our situations. Nothing more they can do, they think, so they go on about their lives.

Often, we dismiss ourselves in the same way. We’re maimed, beaten, bloody, unrecognizable. What’s left to put back together, even if we could be?

Isn’t that how our story as Easter people begins, Abba?

A bloody, mutilated, unrecognizable mess, beaten to a pulp, hung on a cross to die. The remains -- to all appearances, lifeless and hopeless -- placed behind a stone, out of sight, everyone who loved him in despair, leaving the scene, to get on with their lives.

“Like water my life drains away; all my bones are disjointed. My heart has become like wax, it melts away within me. As dry as a potsherd is my throat; my tongue cleaves to my palate; you lay me in the dust of death” (Psalm 22:15-16).

And if that were the end of the story, our darkest times would be cause for despair, for despondency.

But you, Abba, creator and author of miracles, don’t see as we see. You see life. You see hope. In the darkness of the deepest pits, you are there.

And the bloody, beaten, maimed mess that was hung on a cross is not the end. And the mangled and crippled remains of our lives is not the end.

The story continues.

In the darkness and lifelessness of the tomb, new life transformed the beaten, disfigured body that had been the Messiah and He rose, resurrected in body and spirit, to give us new life and new hope. So changed, so remarkably whole and alive, those who loved Him and grieved for Him almost did not recognize Him.

And in the darkness and tomb of our despair, you breathe new life and hope into the mangled, mutilated messes of our lives, bringing us to new life -- if we allow you to.

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10).

We may find ourselves feeling like that deer on the road -- beaten, disfigured, and left for dead. But the present circumstances don’t tell the whole story.

“What oxygen is to the lungs, such is hope to the meaning of life.” (Emil Brunner)

You see life where it seems impossible. You give hope where it seems improbable.

“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit (Psalm 34: 17-18).

Despite appearances, despite the present circumstances, all is not as it seems. The trials of this life may leave us mutilated, but we are not carnage without life, without hope.

We are Easter people, who see strength in weakness, hope in the face of despair, triumph in the maimed, mangled mess where life and hope seem impossible. Because you rose to new life, we, too, can rise to new life with and in you.

I sing praises to you, loving and living God, who makes life out of nothingness, who raises us out of the ashes, and lifts us to new heights. With us in our sufferings and trials, may your presence be visible to all as you lead us into new life, helping us overcome the impossible and improbable through your mercy, grace and boundless love.

Thank you for being our hope, our resurrection, and our life!

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.” (Anne Lamott)

St. Ann’s will host a Lenten mission with Father Greg Skowron Sunday through Wednesday, March 23-26, starting with Sunday Mass at 5:30 p.m. The mission continues weekdays at 6:30 p.m. Reconciliation will follow the Wednesday service at 8 p.m.

Masses at St. Ann’s are at 5:30 p.m. Saturdays, and Sundays at 7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., noon (Spanish), and 5:30 p.m. For more information, call 830-779-3131.

 
 
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