Monday, April 19, 2010

The Gardener

The two men had run off, as they were so prone to do, never giving the stranger in the garden a second glance.  He was alone now.  He stretched wide and took in the morning sun, which fell warmly on the leaves nearby.  A morning song drifted in and around him, and the singer lighted gently on a branch just a few feet away.  He stood there, watching the singer, marveling at such a small and elegant creature.  The singer cocked her head and puzzled at him for a moment.  It sang once more, as if to ask who he might be.  He smiled in response, and the singer moved on in a flutter.

He heard footsteps approaching, and sat on his haunches, busying himself with the patch of little yellow flowers beside him.

The woman had returned, visibly distraught, sniffling, speaking in whispers and sobs.  He kept to his flowers as she approached the rock.  He glanced quickly her way, but her eyes did not meet his.

She paused at the sight of the open rock face, and peered into the barren tomb.  He could hear her sharp breaths, and glanced her way again as she stepped, trembling, into the tomb.

He returned to his flowers.  He knew what she must be thinking.  ‘They’ve taken him!  Oh God!  They’ve taken him!  Hadn’t he suffered enough?  Why strip him even of the dignity of a grave?’  She began to sob.  The little yellow faces of the flowers stared back at him, as if pleading: “Say something!”

He heard a voice coming from the empty tomb.

“Ma’am?  Why are you crying?” the muffled voice said.

“They’ve taken him!  They’ve taken him and I don’t know where!  Why would they take him?”

Convulsions of sorrow were coming upon her now, and she turned from the open grave, steadying herself with one hand against the stone that should have sealed the tomb.  Her hand came to her lips as she looked to the empty blue sky.  With a great sob, she buried her face in her hands, and wept.

He stood to face her, and stepped slowly toward her.

“Ma’am?  Why are you crying?”

“Please!” she said between gasps, “Please, if you’ve taken him... If you know where they took him, tell me!  I’ll take him!  Please!”

She fell into the stranger’s arms and wept.  “Please.”

He took her into his embrace, and they stood silently, both of them glowing in the morning sun, her head nestled into his neck.  He smiled as her ear tickled his.  Finally, he put his lips close to her ear and whispered a single word.


Her eyes shot open in recognition, and she pushed herself away to see his face.

“Teacher!” she screamed, and took him into her arms so tightly he began to laugh.

“Oh God!  It’s you!  It’s you!” she said, her heart barely believing the reality of the moment.

“It’s me,” he said.

“Oh, let me hold on to you forever!”

“Not yet, Mary.  But soon.”

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Benefit of the Doubt

They’re saying they’ve seen him, and I don’t know what to make of it.  They say he “appeared” to them out of nowhere, that he spoke to them and even broke bread with them.  What in the world?

I want to believe so badly.  You know I do, God.  I love him so much, and I want it all to be real.  I’ve seen him do amazing things, things I never thought possible and wouldn’t have believed if I hadn’t seen with my own two eyes.

But dead is dead.

I can’t just blindly accept this.  It would be an insult to his memory to be fooled like this.  If this is real, you have to show me.  Please let it be true.  Oh God, let it be true.

The others are walking around like everything’s okay.  They think he’s going to finally do what we always thought he would do, this resurrected Jesus.  But I haven’t seen him, and I’m not going to dishonour his memory by following a delusional whim.

I refuse to make him a political martyr for the sake of another revolution.  He never wanted that.  He’s not just another dead revolutionary to be remade into what we want him to be.

He’s my friend.  He’s my friend and I miss him so much my heart is dying inside me. All I have inside is this aching emptiness, like I’ve been clamped open and forgotten on the operating table.  This sadness is hemorrhaging and I feel like I’m going to die from loss of blood. Please, God.  If any of this is real, show me.  I’ll kiss his wounds and wash his feet with my tears.  I’ll serve him with my very life.  But you have to show me.  Give me the benefit of this doubt.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Easter Tuesday

Alleluia!  Christ is Risen!  Two whole days ago.

Easter is great, but there’s the Tuesday after Easter, when the resurrection is two days old.  Life continues in a world with dirt, and money, and lunch to eat.  So what then?  There’s this every day world that Jesus is still walking around in.  After all, he didn’t ascend in that billowing, holy cloud for another 40 days after he broke out of the tomb.

In the meantime, he walked around here, and ate fish.

He could have ascended that Easter Sunday.  The resurrection would have been no less affective.  But he stayed.  He ate a lot.  He’s often seen cooking fish, or eating fish, or asking, “Do you have anything to eat?”  Perhaps this raising yourself from the dead business can cause a mighty hunger.  I’m not sure.  I’ve never been resurrected.

But Jesus was, and he lingered a while for a reason.  Perhaps he wanted to give Thomas the benefit of the doubt, and let Tom see him that following Sunday.  Perhaps he just enjoyed being here. Perhaps at least part of the reason was to communicate something.  In his death, he told us he was with us in our deepest misery.  In his rising to life, he told us he was with us in our most profound joy.  Maybe in the sticking around for a while before the ascension, he was telling us that he’s around for all the stuff in between.

He was here for Easter Sunday... and Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday and on and on.  He was here.  With us, like a welcome guest who keeps saying, “Well, I really should get going,” until you’ve laughed yourselves all the way to one in the morning.

But he’s with us, from Easter Monday to Boring Thursday.  And especially, it would seem, for the food.  I knew there was a reason I liked him.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Good Friday

The rain fell lightly on their little covering as they prepared their Good Friday feast.  Donuts and instant coffee made a ragamuffin eucharist.  The turnovers didn’t transubstantiate, but the people did.  As they opened their hearts to friendship, they became the open arms of Christ.  As their eyes welcomed in the stranger, they became the embrace of Jesus.

A messenger of God filled the rain with her laughter, and hands that once held prison bars held Innocence close as she said, “I love you.”  Forgiveness whispered back, “I love you, too.”

Angels danced in the street to the music of an infinite grace.