I didn’t sleep at all. My tears fell thick and fast, my gut wrenched with agony. I can’t stop replaying it in my mind; the sight of him, hanging there. The it is finished. The flash of hope that soared through my mind for seconds as the sunlight pierced the gloom. Soon extinguished.
Yesterday I was numb. I could not eat, I could not speak. It was unreal and yet all too real at the same time. I walked through the day like a ghost and tossed through the night like a boat in a storm. And now I must go there. I must go to his resting place to anoint his body with the spices we prepared. The scent of myrrh weaves through the air even now, waves of pungent despair. Surely there are no tears left in me? Surely I have run dry?
I drag my weary body out of bed and collect up my things. I’m meeting Mary and Salome there. Dawn is streaking the sky with too much vibrancy as I arrive at our meeting place; the skies are celebrating the day in a way they should not be. It should be dark and stormy, clouds should be pendulous with misery, but the great expanse is painted in vivid colours. I pull my cloak tighter around me and keep my hood over my face.
The others are subdued. None of us want to be here, but it is our duty. We must do this. We must honour this man we loved so, this man who transformed us. We gather without speaking, our eyes shouting our pain and our sadness enough. We trudge through to the place of the tomb together, resolute, gathering the strength to roll the great stone away together.
Waves of mist hang over the garden, shrouding the tomb, mingling with the waves of sorrow tumbling from our hearts. But as we walk closer a weak light penetrates the fog. I shake my head. No light needs to be here, not in this place. The disloyal sky and the disloyal light. I curse them.
The light is getting brighter. It reminds me a little of how the sun broke through the unearthly darkness when he died, rays piercing the murk and caressing my face. But it’s too much now. Then, there was some hope in it. It was a sign. He was going to live.
But he didn’t.
I shield my eyes against the increasing luminosity. It’s too much. It’s dazzling me now, forcing its way into my reluctant consciousness. I trudge forward.
‘The stone!’ Salome says, flinging her hand over her mouth. It’s not there. Well, it is, but it’s in the wrong place. It’s rolled away, leaving a great gaping entrance. The light seems to emanate from inside the tomb, almost, and I cannot look. Someone must have stolen his body, taken it away, not even left us the consolation of this time with him. Who would do that? Who would be so cruel?
I weep, again.
The others move backwards, their eyes wide with shock.
Some unseen force drags me forward. I don’t want to go in there, not in that place, not when I cannot even see him any more. Not in that empty place of death. But I can’t stop myself.
There’s something in here. No. Wait. Some one. No, two people – but they’re not people, are they? They’re something else. Ghosts? They’re made of light, but their faces are real enough, shining with something I can’t even begin to describe. A radiation of something which stirs a great longing in my deepest soul, a ragged desperate aching.
‘Why are you crying?’ one of them says, and my tears fall harder. ‘They’ve taken him’, I say, stumbling over the words. ‘I don’t know where he is.’
A rumble echoes through my mind. Something shaken… the echo of ground shuddering somewhere. I turn around and glimpse someone else there, and look quickly away. A man – the gardener, probably. I hide my face. Hide my tears. Perhaps he took the body somewhere?
‘Mary,’ the man says, and the word is like honey pouring over me. My name. In his voice.
But it can’t be?
I turn around slowly, hardly daring to look at him properly, and then my world is utterly reanimated. My vision is invaded and my mind is shattered apart and then mended again, all the pieces scattered at my feet are re-assembled, all the jagged bits of me are fit together into a whole that sings out for joy. The mist has cleared now and I look to the sky, ringing out with peals of praise and honour and triumph, the colours of day chasing one another in playful streams like ribbons hurtling through the heavens, twirling and whirling in their glorious hues as they shout out with rapture. And the ground is calling out beneath my feet, sending shivers up my legs and my body, the hosannas of the land and the grass and the trees and the flowers weaving around my head and drawing me further up and further in. And the birds are chirping out their praise and the heavens resound with wild exultation. And he is still there.
‘Rabboni,’ I say, my voice a rasp, broken with wonder.
Go and tell the others, he says to me, he’s not yet returned to his Father. There’s an urgency in his words and an urgency in my heart. I have to tell them he is not dead, that he is risen, that he has been raised to glorious life and he is standing before me here, real and beautiful and brilliant. But something in me wants to linger here, here in my moment with him. Amazed that he would count me, just a woman, worthy of this great honour. I want to stay in this place where the skies shout out and the trees whisper hope and glory fills the air. I want to sit at his feet and gaze at him and be wrapped up in him. I want to stay here.
But as I turn to go a rush of love dashes through my soul and speeds my feet. Run. Run to tell them he is alive. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’
And I know that this love that has transformed me has broken into history and shattered the power of sin and death. I know that it will stream through the years and gather up all the pain and all the sorrow and all the mourning and turn ashes into beauty and sorrow into inexpressible joy. I know that the ground that has been shaken today will reverberate through all of the past and all of the present and all of the future and all the alleluias will ring out loud through all our stories. I know that death has been conquered and the grave has no claim on me.
My tears still fall, all the sorrow of the last days fusing with the rupture of joy that bursts from me now, sobbing loud through abandoned laughter as I sprint through the garden to find my friends."I know that it will stream through the years and gather up all the pain and all the sorrow and all the mourning and turn ashes into beauty and sorrow into inexpressible joy." Wrapped in light – a story for Easter Sunday. Click To Tweet