It is the Christian season of Eastertide when followers celebrate Jesus’ triumph over death. He rose, ascended, and took his place alongside the Creator for eternity. The subject has been messy since the early church began shaping the narrative. Is it “fact” or is it a narrative designed to alleviate grief among Jesus’ followers. When he appeared to them, was he an apparition or a wish in the imagination of their hearts?
After my father’s formal funeral and burial, our family gathered on the back porch for food and storytelling. It was a beautiful Ohio day. Sunshine flooded the yard he had lovingly tended over the years. The central grassy oval was surrounded by flower beds with Iris and a few remaining tulips. The flowering plumb tree was pink with delicate blossoms that masked its long thorny spikes. As my family and friends munched on crustless pimento and cheese sandwiches, I found a quiet place at the edge of the patio. Peering across the yard, I caught a glimpse of long grey ears wiggling in the corner by the fence line. And then, a cotton tail rabbit hopped closer to the edge of the garden. We made eye contact. I saw him wink at me. Is that “fact” or a wish in the imagination of my heart? You see, my father had a very strong dislike for rabbits –especially the ones who grazed in his garden.
I don’t know what happens after we die. I know that trauma survivors experience the narrative about bodily resurrection as fully affirming and hopeful. Black bodies killed brutally are fully restored in their beauty as God had created them. Disfigured bodies through war, accident, or illness are all restored in eternity. And I flirt with the idea that I will see and hold the bodies of my loved ones in the hereafter. As we rocked in each other’s arms across our lifespans, so we will rock again in heaven.
If we are reincarnated, which I’m not sure about either, then we may come back in unusual forms and shapes. Could the large grey rabbit in the garden be my father in a new form? Was my father, ironically, changed into the creature he had cursed throughout his lifetime? Is that why the rabbit was winking?
Blessings on Eastertide and its imaginal mysteries!