If Jesus Rose from the Dead Why Doesn’t My Mom?

I’ve probably been to Catholic Mass as many times since my mom died as I’d gone with her since returning to Ohio from Seattle, several years ago. I always felt like an imposter when I went. Everyone worshipped so sincerely and I felt like I detracted from that energy, the way a non-participant in laughter therapy can ruin a session. I went a few times with her as her illness progressed because I felt like she wanted me to and I got something out of it, but I liked to stay home and write while she and her husband were at church and then have breakfast ready for them when they got home. Mom came to understand that represented me better and she respected that.

Now I’ve been to her funeral Mass, another bereavement service, Christmas, and Easter. I go so her husband doesn’t have to go alone, but I also go for me. Mom’s there. I drift in and out of paying attention. I’m mostly communing with the mystery, where Mom’s gone, to the mystery of being. Our presence proves the mystery of being. My conflict with religion is that it attempts to unravel the mystery by attaching specifics I don’t relate to. What Joseph Campbell taught me is that all religions are true. They’re metaphorical of something. What’s happening to Jesus should be happening in your life. Whether Jesus rose from the dead or didn’t, that was almost two-thousand years ago. I relate to it as a story. Jesus died and rose from the dead, as a metaphor. My mom died but I think of her sitting in her church with her husband, as I always think of her, but being in church brings me closer to the mystery of being, where she is now, and I commune with her. She has risen. It’s well known that that’s blasphemy, in some thinking, but in other thinking that is the point of religion to recognize that God is in you and your loved ones and everyone you meet. Joseph Campbell says, “Jesus ascended to heaven but what is heaven? Heaven is no place. He ascended to heaven through the inward space which is where you must go.” Sitting in church, I travel to the inward space and be with my mom. I enjoy that.

Love You Mom!

Mother died today. Or it might have been yesterday. I only don’t know because right now I’m enjoying morning coffee with her while she receives therapy from one of her Hospice nurses. I’m preparing this blog ahead of time linking some of the blog posts I’ve made over the many months since her diagnosis of terminal liver cancer. Months we’ve managed, following her lead, to make the most of. Sharing her through my writing is likely to be my path through grief.

I’ll link them short to long. If you feel like reading any, please do. I’m grateful for your thoughts, your comments, and your time.

1. Compiling A Reading List I Hope not to get to soon

https://myfreesentences.wordpress.com/2016/01/07/compiling-a-rereading-list-i-hope-not-to-get-to-soon/

2. Awakenings

https://myfreesentences.wordpress.com/2015/11/19/awakenings/

3. Dreaming of A Living Funeral

https://myfreesentences.wordpress.com/2015/01/08/dreaming-of-a-living-funeral/

4. Bulk Popcorn

https://myfreesentences.wordpress.com/2014/12/13/bulk-popcorn/

5. Hearts Connected by String

https://myfreesentences.wordpress.com/2014/12/01/hearts-connected-by-string/

7. Integrating Sadness and Joy:

https://myfreesentences.wordpress.com/2016/01/29/integrating-sadness-and-joy/

8. Scan Day:

https://myfreesentences.wordpress.com/2016/02/02/scan-day/

9. Keeping An Eye on Her Grandchildren

https://myfreesentences.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/keeping-an-eye-on-grandchildren/

10. This post I wrote about my father four years after he died:

https://myfreesentences.wordpress.com/2014/10/01/four-years-today-thank-you-for-reading/

11. My Mother’s Simons:

https://myfreesentences.wordpress.com/2016/05/06/my-mothers-simons/

12. Yahtzee:

https://myfreesentences.wordpress.com/2016/06/04/yahtzee/

My Mother’s Simons

With permission, I’ve shared details of my mother’s journey through my own reflections, here’s another. My mom had a vision of Jesus carrying his cross and her following with a cross of her own. Jesus was giant-sized, she half his size. Helping her were tiny figures. She looked closely and saw that they were people who’ve sent cards or texts or otherwise offered encouragement. (That would include readers of my posts, as well.) The faces of Jesus and her are both blank.

My mom hopes it was a vision, not a dream or a hallucination. To me, the difference isn’t central. She’s accessing deep mythological themes that are comforting her. It’s bound to her specific religious beliefs but pushing deeper. She and Jesus are faceless. I interpret that as moving past the personification to that mystery beyond all human comprehension. The image of God is the final obstruction to the religious experience of interfacing with the transcendent.

We require models to show us how to die, which are really models to show us how to live knowing we’ll die. That’s the real human struggle. After all, dying’s no trouble. Dying isn’t even an action event. We have trouble with this concept, of course, and its inevitability isn’t necessarily comforting. In the Bible, Jesus died on the cross for our sins. What sins? The sin we’re born into the world with, well that makes no sense to me, personally. Considering the same story, I interpret the crucifixion, as I mention in Little Book of Thou, which I’ve excerpted here, as God becoming so immersed in the role of Jesus as a human being that Jesus didn’t know he was God and had to die a human life with only the same faith in what came next that every other human dies with. (What that is being unique to each individual)

We’re all on this journey but my mom is on it with a heightened awareness, because she’s terminally ill. She’s carrying her cross, now, and being helped by her Simons, but she’s also helping her Simons. She’s providing a beautiful, courageous model for accepting the passing of this life she knows and treasures. In some ways, it would be easier not to know what’s coming, but we’re all, those who love her, her Simons, following her lead and choosing to value the knowing and treat this ending leg of the journey as a gift.