Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mary, Holding On.

She crumpled into a heap against the rock, and wept.  Tears covered her face entirely, for this was the deep weeping of grief upon grief, of insult and confusion thrown rudely on top of sadness.  Her stomach ached from weeping, and she curled her small legs into her body and wailed.

“Why…?  Why would they do this?” she cried.  She was barely aware of the world around her: right now, her world was her sadness and the cold rock at her side.  She raised her eyes for just a moment and looked to her left, into the overwhelming emptiness of the tomb.  Some part of her hoped it was a mistake, a dream, and that his body would be there after all.  But it wasn’t, and her head fell, and she cried again.

Her thoughts swirled with anger and sadness and questions and accusations.  Why would you take him?  Was it not enough to kill him?  What right do you have to do this?  You snakes!  You vile, awful snakes!  She turned her head, almost unconsciously, and looked inside again.  She was not surprised to see two men sitting there where his body should be.  They had probably been sent to give some kind of message to his followers.  One of them looked at her and spoke.

“My lady, why are you crying?”

A swirl of answers to such a cruel question came to her head, but she caught her breath and answered simply.  “They’ve taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve laid him.  Please,” she said, “if you know where he is… please…”  But another wave of tears took her words away.  Through the cloud of tears, she saw a set of dusty feet in front of her: the groundskeeper.  She didn’t have the strength, neither in her mind nor her muscles, to look up.  He asked the same, cruel question.

“My lady, why are you crying?  Who are you looking for?”

Maybe he would know, she thought, maybe he was here when they took him.

“Please, sir.”  Her voice was ragged now, and her words came out in a choked rasp.  “Please, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I’ll take him.  Please!”  She held her head in her hands and covered her eyes, sorrow and complete weariness overtaking her.

The groundskeeper bent down on his haunches, put his hand on her shoulder, and said a single word.


The word was warm and rich, and drenched in a familiar mercy.  She raised her eyes, and saw the last person she ever expected to see again; the only person she ever hoped to see again.  Her breath left her, and life shot out from her heart to her fingertips.  “Rabbouni!” she screamed, and tackled him in an embrace that sent them both awkwardly to the ground.

“Rabbouni! Rabbouni!” she said again and again, kissing his hands, his fingers, his face, his feet, as if her kisses could ensure his real, true presence.

He laughed, and tried to sit up straight under the barrage of kisses.  He gathered her hands into his, and looked into her unbelieving eyes.

“Don’t hold on to me.  I haven’t ascended to my Father yet.”

She was puzzled by his meaning, but too overjoyed at his being really, truly real to mind.  For many years later, she would often recall how exactly not  like a dream it all felt.  She was, of course, astonished by his presence, and it all should have felt quite unreal.  But she was so electrified by his presence, so uncommonly present herself, that she felt more alive and awake than she ever had.  When a dream is remembered, it is as through a mist.  This memory, however, stayed with her in vivid clarity.  She would remember noticing the shape of his bare foot on the grass, and the way his toe twitched at the tickle of a fly.  She would remember a faint breeze catching a wisp of his hair.  She would remember the faint taste of myrrh on his fingers when she kissed them.  She would remember his voice: low and soft and warm.  

“Go to my brothers,” he said.  “Tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’  Tell them.  And tell Peter.”

A moment later, she was laughing and running, filled with the most wonderfully exhilarating kind of fear, the wind drying her tears in happy streams against her cheeks.