My memories of Easter are filled with clean, pressed pastel colored dresses and yes, even white spring hats with ribbons. The sun is shining in my memory, and everything feels new. I often think of the resurrected Jesus, then, similarly as glowing and pure like an angel. In Pastrix, Nadia Bolz-Weber disagrees:
“Jesus didn’t look very impressive at Easter,” I said, “not in the churchy sense, and certainly not if Mary Magdalene mistook him for a gardener.” As I looked over the shivering crowd, I suggested that perhaps Mary Magdalene thought the resurrected Christ was a gardener because Jesus still had dirt under his nails….God was never about making me spiffy; God was about making me new….”God simply keeps reaching down into the dirt of humanity and resurrecting us from the grave we dig for ourselves through our violence, our lies, our selfishness, our arrogance, and our addictions. And God keeps loving us back to life over and over.”
I like this image of the resurrected Jesus with dirt under his fingernails. It makes sense after a few days dead in a tomb he may look a little haggard. And believing that resurrected bodies do not need to be gleaming bright helps me see little resurrections in my own story. My most dramatic resurrection story occurred when I was just thirteen. I was rushed to the ER after a horrible gymnastics injury. A double elbow dislocation and compound fracture in my left elbow joint had cut off blood flow to my left hand. I had no pulse in my wrist by the time the paramedics arrived. The ER doctor was prepared to amputate my left arm when he did some last minute jostling of the joint in a last ditch effort to get blood flowing through so the hand would not die. It worked. He put the elbow back together and casted me. I knew none of this until months later when I was frustrated with how slow and painful my rehab was. As an eighth grader, I had a resurrection moment. When he told me how serious the injury had been, I was made new. From that moment on, I have been grateful to have two arms. I was lucky. I was made new. It was not, however, a beautiful moment. I was swollen and sore. I still don’t have full range of motion in my left arm. My resurrected body is in rough shape. It was my heart that had been made new.
I’ve had other resurrection moments in my life where God invites me to newness. They are never my most pristine moments. I’m far from a clean, pressed pastel dress. It is my most haggard moments when I need God’s renewal the most. So this Easter, I’m imaging Christ a little rough around the edges, being mistaken for a gardener. I’m finding hope that in spite of having dirt under my nails, I’m still eligible for renewal through God’s grace.