It was still dark when she woke, the air was heavy and close she felt trapped by it. She drew a deep breath but found it hard to take it back as her chest hurt as the air filled her lungs. She suddenly remembered why…. It was from the pain born of the day before from weeping, the sort of crying that goes so deep it almost draws the very life out of you.
The breath brought everything back into sharp focus, She could not lounge around again today, there were jobs to be done although it was two days ago since those awful events outside the city walls, today was a new day and although hope had gone and been replaced by the dark hole of grief she knew she had to face the day and all that it brought, and whats more is that she knew she had to do it alone.
As she stepped out into the narrow streets the presence of darkness seemed to be creeping in every shadow, every step she took was laboured, this was not a journey that she ever thought she would be taking. It was not supposed to end like this they hadn’t just taken her Rabboni, (her teacher) they had also taken her hope, her inspiration, her dreams of tomorrow and with it her faith. How could God have let this happen? Where was God now?
As she made her way to early morning spice market the familiar smells of frankincense and Myrrh filled her nostrils and suddenly reminded her of the stories she heard her master tell of gifts some travelling men had given to him as a child, it now seemed bitter sweet that she would taking the same spices to anoint his broken body now, it seemed in some small way as if there was a bigger plan at work some how.
She moved on, and out of the city passing the signs and symbols of her oppressors the roman banners, the soldiers with their advanced and modern weaponry, the empire and the power and torment that came with it all. But amongst all of this she recalled that there was once a promise of a different way, talk about a kingdom instead of an empire with rules of love instead of violence, justice and a hope for a future, but that promise seemed to have vanished like a whisper in the wind and she could not let herself get sentimental about it now.
She continued her journey taking her to the tomb, and as she ventured the surrounds began to change, it was as if a new scene was being set, building gave way to trees, hard dusty roads became paths of soft moss and grass, and the darkness of the city began to be broken up by the dawn appearing on the horizon.
She approached the edge of the garden and the memories came flooding back of being here on Friday, this time though everything looked different, she caught her finger on thorn bush as she walked by and it started to bleed. The crimson red glistened in the early morning light, it is strange she thought how suffering can seem to alter so much, even the simplest of objects can seem to be planning to harm you when you are already in pain, it was almost as if this feeling of hopelessness she felt inside her had permeated into every other object around her. She looked again at the thorn bush and suddenly realised it wasn’t the bush but something laid on its branches, it was the crown which had been made for the master, it must have fallen off on the way to the tomb, she recalled the crown that they had made, the same thorns that had wounded her had opened his brow, the jokes and the laughter that had accompanied it, she held back the tears that choked the back of her throat.
She moved on through the trees towards the tomb…. She had rehearsed her speech to the guards in her mind, she felt prepared, she did not want to be turned away, she had come too far for that, emotionally, spiritually and physically.
“I have to see him again,” she heard herself saying softly to herself, she had a job to do, a job that would bring comfort and order to a battered and abused body, she had to wrap his body one last time as his mother would have done a 1000 times for him when he was a baby, this one last task now fell to her, and she was going to do it right.
The light was breaking through the tree tops as she approached the place… there was an unexpected stillness that seemed to embrace all around, she slowed her walking almost frightened of breaking it. As she drew nearer she could not see the guards, her heart started to beat faster as she realised that something had happened in this place, and that that something had not been planned by those who had now fled, all she could hear now was the beating of her own heart in her chest and her breathing quickened then she stopped….
The sight of what she saw before her seemed to both overwhelm and strip her of all her senses at once. She was frozen to the spot, she felt the pain in her soul begin to rise again at the sight of this opened tomb before her.
The pain quickly turned to rage, “Why could they not leave him alone? Had he not suffered enough?” she thought, the rage then turned to fear as she realised that the robbers might still be lurking in the half-light.
She turned and ran, she ran hard and fast without looking back, she had to tell the others she thought as she ran, she needed the others to know even if only for the fact that she would not feel so alone. As she arrived she explained the whole situation and what she had found, a small group hastily rushed back to the garden to find the tomb. The men raced ahead and again she found herself alone, she started to pray, she did not have the words but something deep within her started to wake, was it hope?
As she arrived back at the opened tomb it was light, it was as if this was a different world to the one she few just a few moments ago, The men had entered the tomb and had confirmed her fears, the master was gone, they brushed past her as she stood outside, they did not say a ward the pain in their hearts was almost visible, as the men disappeared she slumped into the open doorway, exhausted and wept through the tears she lifted her eyes and looked into the blackness of the tomb, it seemed to become some sort of twisted metaphor for the place she felt she was in. For the first time that day she looked to were his body had been laid, she saw the robes they had covered him with, but instead of being strung across the floor they were laid neatly in place, folded…. Organised…?
She stepping into the darkness, it was cold, but before she could respond to these new surroundings there was an image, a being some sort of person, then from the darkness words broke the silence that had descended, a question out of the blackness, “why do you look for the living amongst the dead?” She could not answer, too startled to comprehend the situation, she turned and moved quickly back out into the open, into the safety of the light, in her panic she moved clumsily and fell into the arms of a man standing in the bright morning light. She stumbled back and gathered her thoughts, he must be the gardener, he must have moved the master , he will know, he will have the answers she thought. She asked, her voice fractured, broken and beautiful, she asked, “Where is he?” “Please tell me I need him”? There was no reply from the stranger, he just stood there, his presence strong and defined, complete,
“Mary” Came his reply, “Mary!”
She looked into his eyes and saw that it was him, Her heart warmed and she was enveloped with total peace it was Jesus, her Jesus and he was well !!!! He was more than well, he had never looked so, so ALIVE!
He had spoken her name and in that moment everything had changed.