The grace we are asking of God: A deep confidence and a consistent trust in God’s care for us and his nearness to us in every moment, even in the events of our life that are our undoing.
Horizons of the Heart: Horizons of the Heart is a weekly retreat-in-life inspired by the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius, Donec Formetus by Blessed James Alberione, and my own notes from my thirty-day Ignatian retreat in 2022.
Beginnings are more important than endings. In fact, beginnings are already woven into every ending. The ending of the life the caterpillar has always known is already integrated into the process of the butterfly’s new beginning. The seeming ending of the Master’s life on Calvary was mysteriously taken up, and gently, in the Father’s hands, it became the stage for the mystery of resurrection beginnings that would be lived again and again and again in Jesus’ disciples’ lives.
“Why would you look for the living One in a tomb?” said the angels in white, angels of the resurrection whose radiance washed away the black sorrow of the ending of the Lord’s life on Calvary (Luke 24:5 TPT). The women who had come to seek the Lord buried in the tomb, locked behind a giant stone, dead, whom they feared they would see no more, these women faced the darkness of the sepulcher now lit with almost blinding brilliance. “He is not here. He is risen.”
“There’s no reason to be afraid” (Mt. 28:5). Pause a moment and think of an ending in your life that was particularly sudden, seemingly absolute. Or an ending you are living through now: termination, loss, failure. Any ending. One as great as the breaking of a relationship or losing a pet, or moving, or retiring. Or one as beautiful as the wedding of a child or the turning of a new leaf in life. Any ending.
Don’t endings bring on feelings of fear?
“There’s no reason to be afraid,” said the angel to the women. I’m not so sure that the command to not be afraid actually shifted their fear into trust. Nevertheless, it is helpful to remember that amid all our dread, struggle, the anticipation of an uncertain future, the uncertainty about what is happening, there is something permanent that is the reason why we needn’t fear…needn’t fear deep down, needn’t believe the absolute worst, needn’t believe that the ending is, well, an absolute and final and irrevocable end.
“I know you’re here looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here—he has risen victoriously, just as he said! Come inside the tomb and see the place where our Lord was lying” (Matthew 28:5-6 TPT).
Proof! That’s what we need to really believe the end is not the final ending. Come inside and see where the Lord was lying and that he is not here anymore.
Come inside. We interiorly flee our endings. We can’t take the shame. The sorrow. The worry about the future. It is all too much. The apostles fled and they didn’t turn back. They forgot that the Master at whose side they had lived had words of eternal life. They couldn’t remember that just three days earlier he had said it was good that he goes and that he would come back. It escaped their memories entirely that he had prophesied that he would die on the cross and three days after rise again. The women, on the other hand, sorrowing and loving and deeply yearning for the touch of their Lord’s presence and the sight of his face once more did return. They returned to the tomb. To the place of what they believed to be the utter ending.
We need to return to the places of our endings if we are to discover the brilliant process and amazing promise of new beginning.
There is, however, the message of a different type of beginning that the women are entrusted with. They are given the mission to run to their devastated and hiding brethren and tell them this message: “I am going ahead of you in Galilee and you will see me there” (Mt 28:7). Galilee… The place where it all began. By the sea of Galilee, he had called Peter and Andrew, James and John to leave their boats and follow him. The sea of Galilee had been his first pulpit, and had seen his first conversion. (“Leave me Lord,” Peter had said, “I am a sinful man.”) Galilee was the place of the beginning of their relationship with him. A relationship now grown old and sagging from the sorrow of betrayal and the worn thin by the confusion of the last days. The ending.
Everything of those three years and the colossal failure of the arrest and death of Jesus was still there…
…return to Galilee
to the beginning
to the call
to the promise
…return to the beginning to learn afresh to be LOVED and to LOVE.
I distinctly heard his voice in my heart on the first day of my retreat, “Come back with me, Kathryn, to the beginning.
To your call
To the promises I made to you at your baptism, at your profession
I am faithful to promises through endings and into new beginnings. You can’t see the new beginning as you bend and peer into what appears to be the tomb of your life. Just as the women at the tomb had to believe the angels of promise who proclaimed that the world had been made new by something that had never happened before, that someone had risen from the dead, you too must believe without seeing that I have a new beginning for you. Come back with me to the early days, the first love, the first profession of trust in me as I called you, the first experiences of my love for you, Kathryn. That love still stands, always stands, will forever stand unshaken.”
He is not there. You may not know where he is right now. You may not know what he has in store for your life. You may not know if you believe in new beginnings or even want any new beginning that you can’t see and be certain of and in control of so that you won’t be hurt anew. Because let’s be real….endings hurt.
The paradigm of Jesus, however, holds true in us. Whatever it is that robs us of what we had is not greater than the Father who has us in his hands. And our Father is the God of life who brings victory out of failure and life out of death. In our very endings, or what to us seems to be an ending, is already the beginning of the new life. All is shrouded in mystery except for the very clear promise: “I will meet you in Galilee.”
We will not see Jesus where we expect to find him, if we are certain that our relationship with God stands in shambles because of the endings that have left our lives so torn… If we are certain that Jesus looks at our lives the way we look at them…. Lives of endings and tombs and hopelessly no beginnings.
What is your ending?
Where do you see the beginning of something possibly, tentatively new living already within you?
Where is your Galilee? Where did you experience the Lord’s love for you? His call? His promise? His trust? Where did you see his eyes looking on you and hear his voice calling you his beloved? Return to that place. Return with him. Patiently. The Lord is unravelling the endings of your life and with the very colors and threads of the past will weave the new that will be your unending joy.
He promises that to you. So weep if you must. Tears heal and are so good for us to shed. But then bend down to look into the tomb, hear the promise, and follow Jesus back to the beginning where you will meet the Weaver of the indescribable beauty of all that is new.