Another in National Public Radio’s This I Believe series aired last weekend. These are short essays in which people from a variety of backgrounds describe those things that they hold most deeply. The series has offered countless insightful perspectives, I found this one especially so. A woman named Winter Prosapio shared the details of her developing understanding of one of her grandmother’s proverbs: “No hay mal que por bien no venga.” Nothing bad happens without some good coming of it.
As listened, I heard the proverb as a variant on the promise “All good things work together for those who love God.” (Romans 8:28) It’s a passage that has often frustrated me, not for its content, but for the fact that I often hear it used on people in the midst of their own grief, almost like a prod, to get them back to the business of finding a way forward as some sort of mark of faith, like a kind of optimism. Prosapio gave me more to think about.
She starts by acknowledging that she used to hear her grandmother's advice as mere optimism about the future. Then she goes on to describe a series of troubles that struck her and her family and how, rising from those troubles, she began to understand what her grandmother had been trying to teach her, that wasn’t about optimism or opportunity.
“Instead, it’s the building of small things, like bits of layered coral, coming alive on the remains of our best laid plans. Today I face each day with three new abilities; humility, simplicity, and gratitude, interwoven into my character. This is the good that has come from the pounding surf of the last few years.”
I believe that the physical resurrection of Jesus from death is a history-changing event in which life achieves victory over death. I have come to recognize occasions of healing, rebirth and joy as echoes of that first resurrection as surely as the miracles of Jesus recorded in the gospels anticipated it. All of it, both before and after Jesus’ own resurrection, serve as sign-posts and anticipations of the resurrection of the body that we confess in the creeds of the Church.
After listening to Winter Prosapio’s story, I’m adding experiences of deeper understanding and growing resilience to my list of resurrection signs and I encourage you to listen to her for yourself here.
Rev. James A. Wetzstein and Rev. Charlene M. Rachuy Cox serve as university pastors at Valpo and take turns writing weekly reflections.