No resurrection by proxy

What 8-year-old Amelia Meyer has to teach us about Lenten arrangements that lead to life’s flourishing

by Ken Sehested

        My vote for this Lent’s saint of the season is 8-year-old Amelia Meyer of Kansas City. Given the current electoral charade, with its evisceration of democratic traditions, her testimony couldn’t come at a better time.

        I learned of her story in a most mundane setting. My lunchtime habit is to heat up leftovers, or smear apple slices with peanut butter, and watch television news channels or sporting reports while eating. Occasionally, when all of those have simultaneous commercials, I flip to CNN’s “Headline News” for an update on “trending” styles and the subjects of public gossip. (You should try it—it can get pretty funny.)

        However, I was sitting in stunned silence, with moist eyes, by the end of a very brief profile of Amelia, my memory turning to Isaiah’s incredulous insistence that, in the end, “a child shall lead.”

        Amelia, who’s battling brain cancer, was selected by the Make-a-Wish Foundation to fulfill her most extravagant dream-come-true craving.

        But instead of a Disney World escapade or shooting hoops with a celebrity athlete, her choice was unimaginable to every peddler of what passes for entertainment and adventure.

        To everyone’s shock, Amelia said she wanted to “take care of the world” by gathering with her friends to pick up litter in her city’s parks.

        Hundreds of people, including Kansas City Mayor Sly James, showed up to help.

        This is the work of Lent, of allowing our “make-a-wish” appetites to be altered, of facing a mortally-diseased world and speaking Heaven’s nevertheless, affirming that we are not, finally, left to the consequences of our earth-littering, calamitous choices.

        This is our Lenten aspiration, to allow the reordering of our tangled desires, to restore our sensibilities for joy beyond distraction, for connection beyond autonomy, for freedom beyond consumer choices, for love beyond self-indulgence, for ecstasy beyond frenzy.

        Given the mess we’re in, however, means that the invitation looks an awful lot like the cross—which is not, in any shape, form or fashion, as it’s commonly portrayed from pulpits as a kind of divine sadism, satisfying a bloodlusting deity.

        The cross, rather, is the Resurrection’s calling card. The way of the cross will, in fact, lead Home: to health, to wholeness, to the extravagant, dream-come-true promise of peace.

        But you have to be prepared to bet your life on it. There’s no Resurrection by proxy.*

*The last sentence is from Vincent Harding.
©Ken Sehested @