Threatened With Resurrection

As some of you know, I welcomed birthday #70 last month. With the help of my sister and brother-in-law, I threw myself a little party with great food, cake, and festive drink. For the occasion, I also asked a friend to put together a brief croning ritual for me. The ritual included music, poetry, and water, and we all did it together at the party. It was not too pagan.

Croning. Are you familiar with the word ‘crone?’ I am using it here as a verb, in the sense of becoming a crone. That is – at least in part – what I understand myself to have done in turning seventy.

Research tests my resolve. Merriam-Webster online offers the following definition for ‘crone:’ a cruel or ugly old woman. Cruel. OR ugly. At least there’s a choice!!

—Continued from Messenger—

One must read the comments under the definition of ‘crone’ to get to the sense of the word that is meaningful for me at my age. I am a feminist, so that sense of the word is a feminist one: “from a feminist perspective, a crone is a wise woman,” “I always thought crone was a word of distinction for an old and wise woman. A woman who was the font of knowledge, healer, shaman.”

On my birthday I was asking my community of friends to acknowledge in me some qualities that our culture does not typically honor in women of a certain age. I asked them to help me thank God for the blessing of the years lived and for the wisdom accrued with those years if indeed there be any. They did, and it was beautiful, moving and fun.

Among the words spoken in the croning were some of those of the Guatemalan poet Julia Esquivel. I had the opportunity to meet her in 2001, along with a group of Eden seminarians taking part in a study/travel seminar. In hearing, during the croning, a part of Esquivel’s poem, “Threatened with Resurrection,” we were together in the presence of her decidedly un-sentimental and this-worldly perspective on the central Christian image, God’s victory over death in Christ Jesus.

That is the whirlwind

which does not let us sleep,

the reason why sleeping, we keep watch,

and awake, we dream.

… it is the earthquake soon to come

that will shake the world

and put everything in its place.

…Join us in this vigil

and you will know what it is to dream!

Then you will know how marvelous it is

to live threatened with Resurrection!

To dream awake,

to keep watch asleep,

to live while dying,

and to know ourselves already resurrected!

Resurrection as whirlwind. Resurrection as earthquake. A destruction necessary to transformation.

Crone or no, I struggle this and every Lent between the non-judging acceptance of the world as it is that seems to me necessary to continue to live in the world … and combined yearning and zeal for a world transformed for conformity to God’s will for love and justice. The world is heartbreakingly beautiful, and it compels my love. The world is terrible and cruel; it is full of hate and it groans for the power of God for transformation.

I need seventy times seventy years of wisdom to live in this world in peace and equanimity. May I grow in wisdom this Lenten season and may you do so as well.

Rev. Dr. Martha Robertson