"Consider him who endured such hostility against himself... so that you may not grow weary or lose heart."
~ Hebrews 12:3
I have often wondered if Jesus ever returned to the hillside where he hung on a cross and died? Did he once again walk the streets where he carried the cross, remembered how he was feeling and the words that were yelled at him as he struggled to take each step? Did he once again approach the tomb where his body, bloody, broken and gray, wrapped in a piece of cloth, was shut away into darkness?
Did he sit, look and wonder, like so many of us do, at the places where our lives have been changed?
To this day, every time I pass through the intersection of Elgin and San Jacinto in downtown Houston, I remember the day that a man failed to stop his car and hit me while I sat at a red light. I remember the sound, the smells, and the impact, that seemed to change my life forever, including some of the pain that I continue to carry with me from the injuries that I sustained that day. They are a type of wound that I continue to carry.
I can still remember where I was standing when my dad called me to tell me that my stepmother had died, as well as, what the room looked like where my first child was born. The porch I stood on when I encountered my first kiss, and the field next to our home that I often looked out upon, with corn ready to harvest, when I dreamed of places I hoped to go.
I recall the teachers who encouraged me to write, and the time someone with authority told me I was under arrest while I stood outside an establishment, protesting for the rights of someone who had already experienced more than I could ever imagine. Every time I pass Santa Fe High School, I remember the day last May that I held the hand of a mother whose daughter had been shot.
Did Jesus visit Lazarus and talk about what it felt like to draw the his final breath, and then to suddenly realize that he was alive again? And what did the voice of Jesus sound like as he proclaimed, "Lazarus, come forth?"
These are things I wonder about Jesus, his resurrection, and the time he spent as he once again visited familiar places.
The morning of Jesus' resurrection, the women who were walking to the tomb to care for Jesus' body, may have walked in silence, thinking of the final images of Jesus, only to discover he was not there. The place where they last saw him, was now the place where a great miracle had taken place. This place was now where they were standing, staring into the face of an angel, asking the women, "Why are you looking for the living among the dead?"
The place now has new meaning.
It makes me realize that mourning can become dancing. That beauty can come from ashes. That life can come from a place of death, and that new beginnings can start when a chapter closes abruptly.
The places where we have encountered life-changing milestones are sacred. They are altars where we have experienced vulnerability and provided the words that help us to describe our faith, even when the experience has taken our breath away.
While we may struggle to understand why some things happen to us, the impact of the milestone will always change us. I am reminded of the words of Helen Keller who wrote, "What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us."
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2019
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Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.