The Symbolism of the Resurrection

Finding renewal in lifeless places

May 01, 2019

Christianity Spirituality Inspiration Jesus
concrete cross adorned with florals

Photo by Sandy Millar

Easter. The word conjures up themes of renewal and rebirth for me. A starting over. Not like starting a new year, but starting a new way of life, a re-envisioning of how one wants to show up in the world. This day gives me hope that what once was dead can come back to life. All the lifeless places within me get drenched with promise. A promise that where there is the tiniest of seed, a new thing can grow. I just have to be willing to provide the soil.

There is so much symbolism in the Resurrection story. I don’t think that was by accident, but by design. The death of the old and the birth of something new. The letting go and the letting in. The burying in the ground and the rising up from it. Not unlike the image of the phoenix. Why are we so innately drawn to these symbols?

I think it’s because there is so much in us that craves renewal. We all get to a point in our life where the pile of things that are bereft of life have stacked up too high to go unnoticed. We have ignored them for too long. The parts of us that feel deadened need an awakening. Our stale existence needs to be jolted back into attentiveness.

We can try to shake them up on our own by various means — addictions, new relationships, new zipcodes, fresh coats of paint on the walls and other home renovations. We even try new methods of self-care. Reiki, yoga retreats, therapy, self-help books, juice diets. Why are we doing all this? What is it we are truly after?

Aren’t we all just trying to rewrite the story of our lives? To take the broken pieces of our narrative and turn them into salves for our soul? Something worth passing on. There is no better story than the story of overcoming.

So how do we renew? Come alive again? I think it begins with letting what needs to die, die. Burying the things that no longer serve us or add value to our life. From relationships to habits, from routines to thoughts. A decluttering from the inside out and back in again. This alone can take years.

And then we plant new seeds. Find what works, what brings us alive, and do more of that. Incorporate more joy, more connection, more fulfillment and laughter. We define and measure for ourselves what renewal looks like. This, also, can take years. And often, a lifetime.

There is a reason we have seasons, aside from the natural order of things. The symbolism of the Resurrection is all throughout nature — the death and new growth of all living things. And so it is with our life. We bear the drudgery of winter and wait for spring to plant new seeds. Renewal cannot find us if we are holding on to what has died. If we keep looking for bones and wilted leaves, we will never find the bud waiting to shoot forth.

This Easter, may you have the courage to name the lifeless parts within yourself and lay them to rest. And then may you be bold enough to plant new seeds and nurture them to their highest peak. The message of the Resurrection, metaphorically, is this: there is hope that what once was dead can come to life again. Maybe not in three days, but that’s what miracles are for.