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Day 1 of 100-day Challenge -- a gentling curiosity held between longtime friends

Updated: Dec 24, 2023

One Easter morning, I awoke from a dream with an unexpected proclamation. A Buddhist lama, a rabbi and I were having breakfast, chatting like it was the most natural thing in the world. I remember the breakfast nook bathed in sunlight, cups of coffee and some tea (for the lama) on the table. The only thing I remembered in words, though, was a frustrated exclamation in my own voice: I simply don't know what resurrection means anymore. And then I woke up. I remember smiling to myself, feeling like it was the start of a joke. "A lama, a rabbi, and a pastor walk into a bar..."

You'd think this would be a radically disconcerting, even fear-ridden thing for an established seminary professor to admit. It’s such a fundamental question for Christians, after all. And perhaps at some unconscious level, it was plowing some inner ground for what would be seeded in the years to come. But the more overpowering sensation and awareness from the dream was a visceral feeling of a gentling curiosity, held between longtime friends.

Except no one in the dream was a longtime friend of any other. The lama, Garchen Rinpoche, was a gentle presence in my life, but he didn’t know me from Eve, or Tara, as the case might be. The rabbi, Irwin Kula, had a similar gentling presence. I was just getting to know him, having received a copy of his book, Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life. A seventh-generation rabbi and president of CLAL (Center for Learning and Leadership), he and I were heading into some teaching collaborations at my seminary, but we were mostly formal acquaintances in professional sacred work.

Except he was the one who would write back, as it happened, welcoming and celebrating the frustration and question with me. Except I was one who, when feeling nudged to do so, was willing to write him an ‘out of the blue’ email smiling with him into the mystery of a dream. I had no idea he would write back, nor write back as he did.

So this morning, as I have done each Easter morning these many years, I arose early to muse with my dear rabbi spirit-friend on the question of the resurrection for me today. There is something beautifully, sacredly ironic in checking in once a year, with a spirit-friend shaped in Jewish wisdom, to ask the question “What does resurrection mean (to me) anyway?” And for him to receive me, encourage, mirror the wisdom he can see from his own wisdom streams. Then we both say Happy Easter & Sameach Pesach, belonging to one another in a sacred reverence that is beyond and underneath all of it.

A dream and an impulsive email opened a vista of sacred belonging I never knew was possible. I had no idea then that I was on the cusp of something beautiful, new, holy…but I learned then to reach out, invite in, and trust those that show up. Which is what seems to be within this 100-day blog-post challenge for me. I’m on the cusp of something new, it would seem. I am curious who might join me, or me them, discovering a belonging already there somehow.

Future posts will probably share the Holy Saturday that was like no other for me (a Passover question nod), but resurrection for me today? Continuously awakening to how we belong to one another, how we are one another, connected if we are only willing to stay around long enough to endure the pains of separation we’ve inflicted on ourselves, on one another. Resurrection is the new life of One-ing with one another through all the pain. Christians say Jesus accomplished this At-one-ment in his death and resurrection. I don’t disagree, but for now, for me, resurrection is the belonging that will find you when you welcome a gentling curiosity, held between longtime friends you've only just met.

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