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Let the Door Close Behind You

I cling to the image of Mary Magdalene running out of the dark cave early on what we now call “Easter morning.” I carry it with me, believing it will help me leave my own cave that has become a tomb of Netflix evenings and Zoom days. I entered my pandemic cave by choice, but now it’s time to leave. In leaving, I feel the resonance of Mary Magdalene’s actions–life is not in this cave– and hope to embody her words: “the Lord is out of the tomb” (John 20:1-2).

I finally knew it was okay to step out of my pandemic cave when the sound of my porch door closing behind me meant something–wake-up, get out. For most of this past year, I have not been eager to leave the house. This time, hearing the door closing changed that. This minor sound, click, resounded in my heart as if to say, “it’s time to move beyond the fear and anxiety.”

This year of embodied isolation lured me into the notion that if I remained in my cave, the world outside wouldn’t hurt me. But that was false. The death of family and friends hurt. The horrific videos of Black person after Black person being killed hurt. The knowledge that those who were doing the killing violated the trust of the society I inhabit hurt. The realization of how deep my own entitlement is hurts.

With the click of the screen door, suddenly I was called to leave the grief and transform the hurt. Life, like Jesus and Mary Magdalene demonstrate, is not in the tomb.

I recently discovered an experiment that vastly enlarged my sense of human change. Fifteen volunteers were confined to a literal cave in France for four weeks as part of a study to explore human resiliency in a space without the regular markers of time and space, such as clocks, light, and communication in the outside world.

Although many of these new cave dwellers didn’t want to leave the dark comfort of their cave, they eventually did. We will too. The experiment itself demonstrated something pretty important. Project director Christian Clot told The Guardian “Our future as humans on this planet will evolve. . . we must learn to better understand how our brains are capable of finding new solutions, whatever the situation” (See story here.)

At some point, we all have to leave the caves that have been offering us shelter and comfort or they will become our prisons. When we walk out of an opened door, I imagine we will discover something new in the stunned but living world we call home. The birds will sing to welcome us and the trees will leaf out to shade our paths. Listening for what is ours to do, we will become fully alive.

Simply wanting a new life will not result in one—leaving the old life, the old pattern, the old familiar place, will. As I have been tightly gripping onto what I perceived as a safe space, I have created a pale, stale version of myself clinging desperately to my newsfeed. To start a new life, out of the cave, I must leave its comfort and darkness, making way for the scary often uncomfortable light, ready to be changed.

Click. The stone has been rolled away. Click. The world has been changed. Click. We are resilient. Click. We have been alive in the depths of the cave, but we will be transformed in the leaving of it. May we run with Mary Magdalene as we let ourselves and our hearts open to the new world. Click.

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Debra McMaster
Debra McMaster
26 days ago

Beautifully said, Robbie. It’s time to come out of the cave.

Robbie C. Pinter
Robbie C. Pinter
23 days ago
Reply to  Debra McMaster

Deb! How terrific to hear from you–I have this love/hate relationship with the cave. Prayers for all of our journeys. I hope yours is full of music and mystery.

Kathy Lieffort
Kathy Lieffort
26 days ago

Dear Robbie, such a beautiful message. It was just perfect for this time of rising from the tomb. Much love to you and prayers for your journey

Robbie C. Pinter
Robbie C. Pinter
23 days ago
Reply to  Kathy Lieffort

Kathy! Thanks for the kind note–I miss you and our retreat times together. Still dancing?

Nancy Corson Carter
25 days ago

Thanks, Robbie, this is so helpful–I too have felt some reluctance about leaving the cave.
Blessings to you and all the ways you find to rejoice in the Light outside!
Nancy Corson Carter

Robbie C. Pinter
Robbie C. Pinter
23 days ago

Nancy! thanks again for this–I love your website: http://nancycorsoncarter.com/index.html