Saturday, April 7, 2012

Waiting for Dawn

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. (Luke 24:1)

It was dark yet; cold. I dug my hands deeper into my sweatshirt, glad for the layers. Voices murmured inside the house, then the door opened, and two other women stepped into the darkness beside me. I shifted my billum, checked the offering tucked inside, and gravel crunched underfoot.

We trudged in silence up the hill, last night’s rain clinging to the grass and soaking our skirts. Was it like that for them, I wondered. Did they walk uphill to the tomb, drenched with the earth’s tears?

And behold! A severe earthquake had occurred... They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they didn't find the body of the Lord Jesus.  (Mat 28:2; Luke 24:2-3)

We were among the first to arrive. Colors lay muted in the pre-dawn gray, and I whispered greetings to fellow shadows; the service would start soon. The breakfast tables waited patiently to one side and accepted my gift of fruit without comment. We found an empty blanket near the front and sat down; it would soon be damp from the grass. Fog dripped off the tree branches above me and trickled through my hair.

Was there an earthquake last night? I didn’t know; I am a heavy sleeper. Could they have slept through this earthquake?

As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes. The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn't here! He is risen from the dead!         (Luke 24:4-6)

Voices joined together, joy piercing the clouds that had fallen heavy into the valley before me. Dark patches merged together, took shape, and I could now see the houses and trees on the far side of Aiyura Valley. The sun was rising.

Up from the grave He arose
With a might triumph o’er His foes!
He arose a victor from the dark domain
And He lives forever with His saints to reign,
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!

“Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.”     
(Luke 24:6-7)

A cross stood on the edge of the hill, barren and ugly, wrapped in chicken wire—for what? I wondered, until the first child tucked a lily in between the wires. One by one trickled forward until a flood of flowers wrapped themselves around this symbol of torture. This symbol of life.

The fog still hung draped across the trees, but overhead, the clouds began to crack and shear.

Then they remembered that he had said this. So they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples—and everyone else—what had happened.     (Luke 24:8-9)

Her hand was cold, tucked into mine, as we formed a circle, our backs to the cross and facing outwards toward the valley. Let us pray for our homes, our community, our countries… this country. I sneaked a glance over my shoulder at the dozens of people, families, bowing their head; their presence on this tropical hill a testament to their own understanding  of the heart-cry of the once-oppressed Mary—Rabboni!

2000 years ago, they remembered… and rushed to tell what had happened.

Let us still be rushing, I prayed.

Christ is risen!
He has risen, indeed!