I have a very self-absorbed, narcissistic way of turning everything God is doing around me into something about me. This has been one of the terrible realizations of this trip. Honestly, I don't know how people have stood me! (not just on this trip, but in life!) I've already apologized to Steve profusely for who I am and have been for 30 years.
Learning how to stand myself has been one of my tasks this last couple of weeks, which is important, because it's how I will be able to stand everyone else. After all, what I cannot accept and forgive in myself, I cannot accept and forgive in YOU.
Despite my preoccupation with myself, I did manage to note that this week is the time of year that corresponds to Jesus' last week...the so-called Passion week. Easter observance has been abundant in the city of Accra this week. Before my Kindle died (containing the only Bible I had), and during the death of my self-respect, I noted the pouring out of the oil from the alabaster flask, that was done "for [His] burial." I read about the triumphal entry (and even worshiped at a church that had a yellow palm frond on each seat). I recalled the cleansing of the temple, that defining moment where Jesus pierced the corrupt and commercial element that had infiltrated the sacred. (I had a feeling that I was "there," but of course, my corrupt and commercial element IS sacred, and therefore unrecognizable!)
On Good Friday, we passed a group of worshipers dancing and singing. It was evening and we were exhausted. I couldn't even begin to relate to their enthusiasm.
On Saturday, I thought of Jesus in the grave and wondered if He was resurrected from a sound sleep--suddenly--by the resurrection power of God's fist breaking open death, or did He spend that whole time fighting His way out? (Do we wait to be born, or do we fight our way out of the womb?) I was thinking about my friend who is being baptized today, resurrected to a new life on the same day that Jesus was resurrected. But still, light did not dawn in my soul.
See, I didn't realize it 'til Friday that I had not been able to think about or imagine coming home. It was too far away. To remain strong, I had to live in the moments. But on Friday, I started to see the idea of coming home as a real possibility, even though it was too early to tell for sure that Sunday would arrive.
On Saturday, when I began counting down in hours, it began to seem like a very probable almost-reality. I let myself get excited about seeing my family, sleeping in my own bed, wearing something cute. Suddenly, this whole experience felt like a birth process, not just a death process. I had been able to tell others that was what they were experiencing, but nobody reminded me and somehow, I didn't see it. (I'm sure this blindness was very irritating to others.)
Then it hit me that I'm starting my journey home on resurrection Sunday. I do realize that it's turning the resurrection of Christ into a story about me, but somehow, my barely parallel experience allows me to feel a new sense of excitement about His story. Even though it may be backwards, at least it comes full circle: I felt a personal sense of "death" for a week. Then my attention was drawn to the events that lead up to His death ("It's Friday, but Sunday's coming!"*) Jesus arose! I will too!
It's not just about me, but if He wasn't resurrected, Paul says, we believers are the most pitiable people of all. Our status in the world is tied to His story. He made it about us when He loved us enough to die for us. When we see the symbols of His life in our own is when the hope of transcending our own story turns it into a story about Him.
The dim sight of home that had begun to grow on Friday had left me with the sense of new life, of rebirth, of resurrection. And, ultimately, isn't this what entering into His world--being reborn--is all about?
It's about coming home.
(*"It's Friday....but Sunday's coming!" Tony Evans, I think)