• A. Joseph Rosado

Death and Rebirth


MARCH 7, 2021

The last couple of weeks I’ve been speaking about struggle and endurance, and the reason that I’ve chosen those subjects at this time is that we approach the Holy Week and Easter. So I write that the essence of life is not to find the one thing that satisfies us but to realize that nothing can ever completely satisfy us, and that’s all right. As we approach Holy Week, we witness the struggle with death and rebirth. Struggle changes us; it grows us up. It takes the dew off the rose. It turns the fantasies of life into realities. But struggle does more than that. It also brings life, death, and vision; insight and understanding; compassion and character. It not only transforms us; it makes us transforming as well. Then we become equal to the pressures of the world around us. "Once we have truly struggled with something that stretches the elastic of the spirit we are worthy to walk with others in struggle too. Then we’re ready to listen; then we’re able to lead. When we know the meaning of what it is to struggle with something in life, we become totally human. When we find ourselves immersed In struggle, we find ourselves trafficking in more than the superficial, more than the mundane. That’s why maturing has very little to do with age. That’s why wisdom has more to do with experience than it does with education. We begin to feel in ways that we could never feel before the struggling began. Before the death of someone I myself have loved, someone else’s grief is simply a formality. We don’t know what to say and we don’t know why we are saying it because we never needed to have someone say it to us. Before feeling humiliated ourselves, we can never know how painful the daily paper can be to those who find themselves in it, with no way to defend themselves to the great faceless and anonymous population out there that is using it to judge them harshly, even gleefully perhaps. Until my own reputation is at stake, I can look at another person’s shame and never have the grace to turn away. "After we ourselves know struggle. we begin to weigh one value against another, to choose between them with the future rather than simply the present as our measure. Everything ceases to be equal; one thing is not as good as another. Some things, often quite common things, we come to realize—peace, security, and love—are infinitely better than the great things—the money, the position, the fame that we once wanted for ourselves. Then we begin to make different kinds of decisions. We begin to see beyond the present moment to the whole scheme of things, to the very edges of the soul, to the core of what is desirable as well as what is doable. No one comes out of struggle, out of suffering, the same person that they were when they went in. "It’s possible, of course, to come out worse than we were when we went into the throes of pain. But it is equally possible, if we choose to reflect on it, to come out stronger and wiser than we were before or when it began. What is not possible, however, is to stay the same. Struggle is a great crossover moment of life. It never leaves us neutral; it demands that we make a choice. Either we dig down deep into the wellspring that is our innermost self and go on beyond where we were despite where we were or we simply give up, stop in our tracks rooted to the spot, up to our ankles in bitterness and despair, satisfied to be less than all our personal gifts that we are called to be. "And I finish by saying there was a quote by the Roman philosopher Seneca and he said of struggle “Failure changes for the better, success for the worse. Success can soften us, but there is in a struggle a challenge to these parts of us that cannot come fully to life except in the darkness of adversity. Courage, character, self-reliance and faith are all forged through the fine point in the fire of affliction. And I read that because as we come into this Holy Week I think about the struggles of Christ. I think about the struggles of carrying a cross up an incline, and not just a cross, a big, heavy cross with people jeering and people crying—think about that for a moment in that time of the year. And that’s how many years ago? Struggle has been with us for a lifetime. What does this Holy Week teach us? It’s not only the Christian Holy Week, it’s also the Jewish Passover that we talk about here, and why has this been with us for so long? And even to this day through the struggles we try to hide them and we shouldn’t. "And I wanted to finish this by saying this….the last couple weeks I’ve spoken of struggle, not because I want to but because we all are built with endurance. Christ had the endurance to make it all the way up to that hill to be crucified. Many times I think about the Well and I think about the Well, dig deep into the Well spring. Those of you who have been to the Chalice Well you know what that means. When you think about sitting around the well and that beautiful peace comes and you can hear the well just humming away—that’s how deep we go. And for us who have been there and for us who can only imagine it has true meaning. That’s why they call it the Chalice Well…."

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