My friend Mary wrote this piece (one draft, unedited) in the writer’s group last month.  It’s the third part of Descended from the Dead:

He descended to the dead….  I have felt at times as if I were on a descent to the dead: no life in me, no passion, no joy, no purpose… Maybe even felt like I wanted to go to that place of quiet oblivion, but only envisioning it as: divorce, abortion, adopting out my children, then running away: end of life as I knew it.

 Ironically, my only refuge from my own desire to be there,

Or my non-resistant slide toward there, lie in the love of the One, who,

Tho he had passion, joy & purpose; or maybe because he had passion, joy & purpose,

CHOSE to go to that place in my stead.  Not just for my sake, but for the sake of the entire cosmos;  Why?

So that my own sense of passion, joy & purpose might be restored?

So that creation could again begin to see in itself the thumbprint of the creator?

To genin the healing at the source of all the broken places in our lives: taking light into the depts. Of darkness?

I used to tell my kids (still do in Confirmation) that Jesus descended to the dead to thumb his nose @ the devil (did Luther say that?) but even if this was true, it is not a cavalier thing at all, but with a sense of sorrow that the one who accuses could not accept the love of God as the ultimate power in & of creation.

Jesus descended to the dead perhaps so that when it is my turn; @ the proper time; I will not be delving into the darkness alone & afraid; but entering that cliché: “going into the light” with joy, delight, promise, gratitude.

Perhaps it isn’t simplistic or theologically incorrect to suggest that Jesus descended to the dead so that I, we, would rise to life.

The thing is, I don’t necessarily see that, any of it, as an “after death” experience, but believe that even in life, we have a choice: any one of us can descend to death & darkness now, or, following Jesus, rise to new life, joy, passion, purpose in this life, in the midst of darkness, turmoil, chaos, Jesus’ descent to death gives power to my life & to yours TODAY.  Because eternity isn’t just the future; eternity encompasses all of our todays & the todays yet to come.

Now, I must say, if Jesus had ONLY descended to the dead, shared the fate common to all humanity, but had not gone any further, there would be no point to his death, & maybe, less point to our living.  But from the truths of Jesus choosing death for the sake of life, then bringing life from death, there is given power & courage to all who choose to dare to take steps towards what looks like darkness, trusting that Jesus own footsteps will light our way.  Because Jesus descended to the dead, we can count on being restored to the living.