After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdelene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, 'He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.' This is my message for you." So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. (Matthew 28:1-8, NRSV)
Apostle to the apostles* - this phrase has been stuck in my head since Easter. In the early church, Mary Magdalene and the other(s) with her that morning were considered as apostles to the apostles. But what is an apostle, exactly? In the original Greek, apostle means messenger (literally, one who has been sent). Over time the idea of this special role for these women was lost; I think much was lost when we lost this idea.
Today we are all called to spread the good news, to be apostles, sent into the world. But I think there is a special role for our community, for those suffering from IF and miscarriage. I think we, too, are called to be apostles to the apostles. If that is the case, then what is our message?
Life is a gift.
Day by day, month by month, in our words and our actions, we are called to testify that life is a gift. In our culture and world, where we so casually speak of planning our families and of "death with dignity," there is a strong need for the world to hear that life is simply a gift. Though sometimes you can plan for it, most often it will take you by surprise. Each life, each day has value. No matter what your struggles, sufferings, or weaknesses are, your life is a gift. The child who dies before birth? A difficult gift, but a gift nonetheless. Whether a person lives a few days or more than a hundred years, that life is a gift.
There are many others called to spread this same message; Kara Tippetts did so beautifully and eloquently in how she lived and how she died. So many messengers are needed because the world doesn't want to hear it; we all want to believe that we can live our lives on our terms. "We can make our dreams come true if we try hard enough. We can eliminate suffering if we all come together." How many times have we heard this message? From commencement speeches to self-help books to TV and movies, we hear it constantly. Except we can't. Life is simply a gift. It is a surprise; we don't know what will be contained within. We must simply accept the gift as given. Suffering is a real and necessary part of life; it, too, is a gift. It isn't easy to be grateful for suffering, but perhaps we can learn to accept it is part of the great gift that is life.
* I was initially remembering a form of this phrase as "apostle apostlodorum," which doesn't seem to be the correct Greek or Latin. I also was unable to find the phrase in my notebook from my course in "Women in the Biblical World." (I hate to admit that it's nearly 20 years since I took that class.)