I’ve posted this piece for the last two Easters which means it’s dangerously close to becoming my tradition. The thing is, the image that came to me here of Jesus’ emerging from the tomb is one that I still hold dear. In some way, this piece seems like it was given to me, for me, as much as for anyone. It reminds me of a part of a favorite hymn, I Love To Tell The Story: “…for those who know it best, seem hungering and thirsting, to hear it like the rest.” So this post is for me. And also for you. With thanks to the Spirit of the Risen Lord who inspired it.
Today I was contemplating all the things clergy do on this day, Holy Saturday, the day-between. After weeks of pretending to meander when actually, we are hustling our way through Lent, the whole tempo of our calls reaches a fevered pitch during Holy Week.
Some churches have as many as 14 services (it’s oh so amazingly true…) between Palm Sunday and Easter.
Which makes this day, while we wait, oddly and blessedly, still.
There are many things we can do, and need to do, but they don’t have the same degree of importance. For example:
I could get a manicure.
I could rework my sermon.
I should do some laundry.
It’s waiting in its finest form — the considering of options and acting on some. Or not.
I read an article this morning about the lost art of waiting, since the invention of smart phones. It listed, comically and honestly, what we use to do while we waited:
- watch people more intently
- listen in on conversations in public places
- read the newspaper we had tucked under our arm
- peel off our nail polish (Note: smart phones have not retired this long-standing tradition)
- count things in our view — cars that passed, people wearing hats, children trying to crawl out of strollers
- look at our watch
- look at our watch again
- wish we could whistle
- wonder how people whistled
- imagine the whistle of a train
- fold and refold a piece of paper
This led me to imagining Jesus, in the tomb, preparing to rise. I wondered: did he prepare to rise, or was it just like waking to an alarm clock, abruptly. Did he rise early, then realize he could lie there another hour and still be out before the women came? I settled on imagining him rising in the tomb much like I rise from sleep, except of course, he was dead rather than sleeping. Which is a fairly big difference. Still…
He sits up slowly.
Lays back down.
Curls up on his side.
Dreams a little longer; redirecting the way the dream ends.
Opens his eyes. Again.
Sits up. Stretches his arms above his head. Exhales.
Blinks, letting his eyes adjust to the dark.
Remembers he is out of milk.
And a bowl, a spoon, a kitchen.
He stumbles to the door of the cave, his hand on the stone wall, groping for the light switch.
Makes a note to himself, “inspire someone to invent a light-switch.”
Grabbing a stick, he makes a To Do list on the wall, including things he has already done just for the sense of accomplishment.
Rise from dead
2. Move stone
3. Surprise Mary : )
4. Go to Galilee
5. Surprise, like, everyone
- Try not to say, I told you so.
He bends his right ear to his shoulder. Then his left. Hears his neck crack.
He puts his right hand on the wall fingertips only, the hole in his hand still tender, he pulls it back, looks at the fresh scar, runs his thumb across it gently. Makes a fist, just because he can.
Clasps his hands together.
Drops his chin, takes a moment to pray:
Father, grant me the strength to move that big-ass stone.
He thinks, “how’s this for some truth, Pilate?”
And throws his full weight against the stone.
It falls away easily.
Pulling himself up and through the doorway, into the semi-darkness of just-before-dawn, he inhales the cool morning air.
Walks a few steps, then filled with a sense of mission, breaks into a light jog
He passes a couple of women on the road.
They, so bent in sorrow, neither see, nor hear him…whistling.