Practice Resurrection

At the end of one of his most famous poems, “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front,” Wendell Berry draws us into the energy of deconstruction and resurrection with deep challenges to well-worn thought patterns. After a rousing call to defy aspects of our culture that deaden us to joy and connections to the natural world and each other, the poem ends with the line “Practice Resurrection.”

This line is frequently quoted by bloggers and preachers, in all of its complexity. In her blog, Laura Kelly Fanucci challenges the idea that humans have any part in the work of resurrection. “We can’t practice resurrection. Like Incarnation, it falls in the category of What Humans Cannot Do. By definition, resurrection is God’s work. Not ours.” She goes on to say that only God can summon life from death, and most certainly she is correct. As I’m writing, the sky is slowly lightening as the sun rises and there is absolutely nothing I can do to hasten or impact this daily resurrection. Nor can I will the peony shoots to grow faster through their bed of composted leaves. And no matter how much I may want to help people in their grief, the healing of broken hearts and finding new life is clearly the work of the Divine.

And yet.



With great humility and knowing that only God can bring about resurrection, we can participate in this holy work. Lisa Nikkel shares insights into how she practices resurrection through gardening. And in a powerful essay about moving from the rhetoric of resurrection to the practice of resurrection, Rev. G. Travis Norvell writes about a nearly weekly pilgrimage he makes to the site where George Floyd was murdered. He writes, “I, and the Christian community of Minneapolis, cannot resurrect George Floyd, but we can do everything we can to create a community where BIPOC neighbors have lungs full of breath and where they live long, happy, fulfilling lives.”

So my friends, this Easter season (lasting through Pentecost on May 19) and beyond, I invite you to consider how you can participate in the divine work of resurrection. What actions can you take to nurture new life after a loss or death? How can you connect to people who are lonely and disenfranchised? How can you pray and work for justice in a world that increasingly values things over people and the natural world? There are many ways to practice resurrection and now is the perfect time to share your part of this holy work.

Resurrection blessings,