Season of rebirth: following Christ out of the darkness
Easter is here! Throughout Lent, the Triduum, and Easter, we have 93 days to prepare for and remember Christ’s surrender, grief, death, and the astonishing resurrection of hope and joy that is the Paschal Mystery. I am not a math wizard, but I think 93 out of 365 days is roughly a quarter of the year dedicated to the contemplation of this beautiful mystery. It’s kind of a big deal.
By the time we start singing “Alleluia” in Mass again, springtime is also alive with rebirth. In North Texas, the rebirth is announced with “The Pollening.” Live oaks are pushing out old leaves as new ones replace them. Pecan trees dangle their pollen tassels in hopes of a bumper crop. Bluebonnets emerge.
As you notice the expression of the Paschal Mystery around you in nature, do you wonder how Christ might be inviting you to experience death and rebirth in your own life? I believe the Resurrected Christ is among us, helping us find new life after each heartbreak, catastrophe, and devastation. My personal and professional experience with this mystery is why I chose to become a counselor. I feel honored to witness renewal taking place almost daily in people’s lives. Every time a client enters my office, I feel anticipation for the possible rebirth that awaits them.
During the first visit, folks have usually accepted change is upon them. They have begun to surrender to the unknown of what lies beyond their comfort zone. I am outside their comfort zone. They are also quite anxious, perhaps like Christ was in the Garden of Gethsemane. Therapy is vulnerable and requires courage. I’ve seen many people shake and sweat with anxiety as they divulge their feelings and thoughts about their current situation. (I have yet to see anyone sweat blood, though.)
Those ready for change show up ready to reveal both the light and the dark inside them. We begin sorting through what to nurture and what to prune. Metaphoric dying to self or ego, a natural byproduct of maturation, can be a painful experience. However, when it is moved through rather than seen as the end, clients describe shedding their old ways as liberating and relieving.
Immediately after this pruning phase, clients have incredible access to their inner wisdom and allow new behavior to replace the old. Sometimes, the growth process even happens in reverse order as people choose the change they want, then they let go of what is holding them back. Either way, once they reach the other side of their dilemma there is a very brief experience of grief.
Grief is a side effect of growth often not discussed. It is natural to feel a twinge of regret when we suddenly see the gap between what we used to know and what we know now. I imagine the Apostles could relate to this feeling. Christ frequently alluded to His impending death, but His Apostles still suffered the pangs of grief when it actually happened, and they fully understood what He meant.
After surrender to the unknown, death, growth, and grief, hope is ignited. People emerge from the ashes of their situation renewed and more fully engaged with life. Quite often, they go forth announcing the hope to others still stuck in distress. Healing and growth can be contagious. I think God designed it that way.
What areas of your life might be ripe for rebirth? Therapy is not always necessary for healing. The Risen Christ is already with us, inviting us to set down our burdensome ways, follow Him out of the darkness threatening to kill us, and bring us into new life.
Amanda Averbeck is a Marriage and Family Therapist Associate in Fort Worth passionate about helping others navigate life's storms. She also explores and writes about how spirituality and mental health interlace and contribute to human wholeness.