Edvard Munch. Melancholy. Art Museum of Bergen.
I am alone, waiting in the tomb. There is nothing else I can do. I try to believe the darkness and stillness here will allow something new to be resurrected on the other side of my melancholy, but I can’t feel it now. My wounds are still visible, and I will carry the scars. Nevertheless, I set my heart on the reality of heaven and trust the whole story, not just the page I am living.
From The Hidden Life Awakened:
“Our Lord endured the darkness of the tomb, and we, too, must go through our times in the tomb in some way and at some point in our lives. During our younger years, we may be entombed by debilitating depression, painful circumstances, or compulsive running to avoid pain. Often we are moving so fast that we are not even aware we are in the tomb until we suddenly wake up in the darkness. We become completely depleted during this time because we burn so much negative energy fighting the fear of what we are experiencing.
We need to shift our focus and accept that this season of darkness is truly a time of preparation, a stilling. Acceptance of this ‘not-knowing’ brings forth a complete transformation of self if we will trust it. Its purpose is purification and purgation and leads ultimately to freedom—freedom to finally be who God created us to be, to love and live in God, and to be filled with God. If we will trust the darkness and the silence, God will allow the seeds of our false self to die enough for Him to send up a little sprout of new life. It takes a long time for a tree to grow to its fullness, but as it emerges from the darkness, it offers shelter and beauty to the world.
The way of trust lies through Gethsemane and Holy Saturday. We move from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, omitting Holy Saturday—the tomb. Every phase of our Lord’s life and every aspect of His death speaks to us if we will open to it. Divine obedience was lived out at the Last Supper, accepted at Gethsemane, accomplished on the cross, and perfected alone in the darkness of the tomb. Our assent to time in the darkness is so often the missing link in our lives. The wilderness of our suffering is not just a place of darkness and temptation. It is the place of our transformation through which the false self must move. It is the place of conversion where the emotional pain of a lifetime, stored in the unconscious, is revealed and gradually let go of. This is not a time of separateness, although it may feel that way; it is a time that links us to the Eternal. It is in walking through the darkness that we learn to discern the voice of the Beloved and receive the grace of interior resurrection and the capacity for divine union. All things grow in darkness and silence. There are hidden depths that only the Spirit can reach. It is a hidden life.
The diminishment of the aging process takes us back into the tomb—only now, the tomb is our decaying physical body. If we have not done our work of dying to our ego in the first tomb time, the aging process will humiliate it to death in this very difficult season. The beautiful reality, though, is that if we have done our work, we find that we can enter the second tomb in complete freedom and abide there with the One we have been searching for all our life. Now, at last, we are at rest, free of everything that kept us so fragmented and distracted in our younger years, and we become totally absorbed by Him, with Him, and in Him. As Paul says, ‘Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.’ 1
The icing on the cake is that all we have offered to others during our years between the tombs is given back a hundred-fold. It is impossible to feel lonely in this second tomb time because our communion with God is so deep now. The sweet thing is that all of those we have ministered to and offered our love to go with us into the tomb in spirit and love and are a part of us forever. Now it is their time for ministry—to call others home to the heart of the Father—and our prayers sustain them in their trials and encourage them to persevere. All this rich, warm, intimate love goes with us into the tomb of aging and on into eternity, where we are always in communion with God. We are connected through Christ to one another forever. This is the joy and richness of the communion of saints. This is ministry that blooms into eternity.
Our spiritual journey is a love affair. It is a leaning into God, listening longingly for His heartbeat. Our breathing becomes synonymous with the Breath of Life and brings harmony with the divine flow of life. It is a transcendent resting in, being with, and living in the Presence all the time. It is all about acceptance. Are we willing to face the darkness of the tomb? If we are, God finally grants us the wonderful opportunity to look back at our lives—and retrospect is such a beautiful view—and say, ‘Aha! So this is what that was about!’”
The Hidden Life Awakened pp210-213.