Today is Orthodox Easter; they follow the Julian rather than the Gregorian calendar, and sometimes Easter is shifted by a week. This evening at worship (I currently attend The Gathering @ 7:00pm, at St. Johns York Mills Anglican Church), Anne spoke about Resurrection stories as the focus of the evening. She had a number of examples drawn from the gospels: Thomas and Peter and Saul/Paul and Mary all had different experiences of Jesus risen that affected them and ultimately deeply influenced the way they interacted with others. I loved these stories, and I couldn’t help but think about my own. The only difference would be that in my case, I have a couple of them. (I think that most of us have multiple resurrection stories: two of mine have affected me profoundly.)
The first one would have happened when I was about 19 and at the University of Waterloo. Very standard: I had never really been to church before, but one of my friends started discussing (arguing) with me, and eventually I “saw the light”. I decided to change my track at school, went off to Bible College, worked with churches, and the rest is history. It was profound for me, but hardly significant compared to many tales that are told of people coming to God.
My second Resurrection story would have started almost exactly eleven years ago (11 years ago yesterday). I was in a car accident that put me in a coma for six weeks: today would have been my first full day in intensive care, eleven years ago. At the time, I was just “coming out”; my wife of nearly ten years had left me and I had moved to Arkansas, where I had (painfully) discovered the gay community and made some wonderful friends. I had started dating the man who was to become my husband, and he had been home with me at Christmas. But this was very much the American South: and homosexuality was not considered something that was consistent with contemporary Christianity. In order to reclaim myself, I had been forced to abandon the church. So, strangely, as I had “come out of the closet”, I’d also “gone back in the tomb”.
It took me a long time to get over this. When I I first woke from my coma and was told what had happened, I assumed God was punishing me. In spite of my Biblical training and my knowledge that God doesn’t work like that: in spite of my relationship with Him at the most personal level: I remember those thoughts. For a brief time I was overwhelmed by the words of our culture. Wrong words. Words of hate. They did not last long, but they were significant. One of the things that helped me get through this time of doubt in my faith was the love that I experienced from the people who supported me in Arkansas.
So that is my second Resurrection story. It is not so much coming out of my coma: but that through the accident and through that coma I came to know myself better, and to know that God accepts me (all of me) unconditionally and without reservation. With that knowledge, I am able to respond to situations in a way that is more in keeping with my faith and my self.