When the Light Shines in the Son-rise of Life
In the darkness of the world, after a day of raw grief that ripped the life out of Jesus’ followers, the women, of course it was the women, the faithful women, went to the cave-tomb to gently lay love to rest. Behind a rock-hewn cave-tomb, the mystery lay in wonderment and incomprehensible allure. ‘Who will roll away the stone,’ they wonder through their tears. Who will open the death place for us to nurture death and cover the stench with perfume and hide the mess under wrappings, new and pure? We come to bring gentleness to the body abused through a violent world that kills the humble and hopeful and those who promise an upside down way.
An early morn, day 1 of the week, of the world as it now is or can be, a day like no other! This, because past and future merge into one wondrous, mysterious, incomprehensible experience of Love’s explosion out of grief and death into life, hope and wonder beyond that which is – and was. The powers could not hold love at bay. Throw what they might at this vulnerable being born from the heart of God, killing the body and engulfing the world in the depths of darkness, they could not defeat the way of God! Death was not there! Grief raised its ugly face and was swept away amidst the fear of mystery and uncertainty. Into death and despair, darkness and loss, the power of love emerged as a gentle ray of light building into a blazing sun of resurrection glory that swept through followers and believers and lookers-on who were caught up in this thing of God that transformed life and hope into powerful, blinding, brilliant light. It blinded those who looked directly there – ask St Paul, the one who looked and lost sight before love’s blinding wonder. God emerged from the tomb and filled the lives of people as they launched out in power and wonder and courage to take on the world who had arrested and crucified the holy one in their midst.
‘If they kill me I will rise up in the people,’ said Romero and he lives in a strange way that echoes this resurrection story, paler and more normal but still surreal and wondrous. King lives on in the movement for civility and rights, even in a president of coloured background, a first and lovely fulfilment of hope that is the power of God’s resurrection.
The women, back to the simple, faithful, wonderful women who would not let this story end with Pilate’s men in an unknown tomb. To the empty place, the mysterious place of life they wandered, singing the song of grief, death and tears – the mourning song for Jesus. Did they not hear his words or remember the tune of the song he sang on that long road southwards? Was the song of disciple doubt still strong in their minds too? Did they not understand that the unnamed woman had already blessed Jesus and anointed his head with rich perfume in life because death would not hold his being? Stones rolled back, bodies not evidenced, visitors in white with messages of Galilean hope and new world dreams of what will be – too much for simple human minds to grasp. Instead fear and confusion filled their troubled hearts and minds. What if? Where? Why? Who? Questions and doubts and fears of the powers who lurked and threatened to undo life and everything they had – as if they hadn’t overturned virtually everything already?! Did the women tell the men? Some say they did, Mark doesn’t indicate and so we are left in the air with Mark’s story coming to an open-ended strangely uncertain end. Women silent and afraid leave us hanging and wondering – where will this One appear next? What will happen when the journey returns to where we began in Galilean hills or by seaside beach? Where was it we first encountered this God in strange and curious wonder amidst the ordinariness of life or in deep darkness or blissful delight? What does it mean to return there and begin anew with a new sense of Divine love and grace in our being that calls forth from us loving enactment of Jesus’ way? The circle of journey, of growth and new delights, of grief and wonder merging into human life that opens itself to what is there to be experienced and lived, with God in our midst.
These women and men of ordinary, peasant pedigree filled with confusion when control disappears and God turns the world upside down and they/we can’t hold on and live. It is the upside down words of Jesus that return to tell us that you must lose life to gain it but if you hold onto it you lose the potential that arises before you. When we grasp to control the truth, to define the God in our midst and how love undoes the predictable ways of the world, we lose our grip. So many try to hold and define the events of this mysterious night in the darkness of the world in the cold raw tomb where love lay dead and fading. So many know what happened thought the stories rise and fall with wonder and delight and this resurrected one who comes and goes, appearing where he will in an uncontrollable manner. But isn’t that the truth? Isn’t it so that we can’t grasp the God who does what God will do? Or the Spirit that blows where it will, like wind that wisps through fingers clenched around thin air – here or gone?
Isn’t that the point of the story? Aren’t we invited into a place where nothing makes sense when we literalise, historicise and seek truth only in the words rather than where they point and lead us? Don’t we discover the fullness of the mystery, the beauty of the wonder, when we let go and fall into love that holds the universe in grace? When the story becomes studied and stolid revealing all facts that must be known and believed and held on for dear life – in the world to come – the story is gone like the wind in our hands and God, where is God? Where is the life for which we yearn? Is it over there on the far side of death in a world unknown beyond the dead? Is that the only place where life can be lived? Is this the hope of the journey destination, to remove ourselves from the world and await our turn to disappear over the rainbow into the heavenly realm?
The man in the white, who sat in the tomb, awaited the ones who came looking for death but didn’t know life. He told them life was alive and in the world. It awaits them at home, back where all this began. Not in a world far away that is wondrous for sure, but lived in this place of darkness and light, of reality and pain and joy and people. This God enters our world here and now with life amidst death and a hope-filled light of loving grace that changes everything!
Other storytellers speak of locked rooms and a table meal where eyes open and wonder is revealed. The breathing of Spirit into human life, of blessing and delight and unbelievable reality of a new world begun in ancient times now revealed in this one, wondrously new. The Reign of God, the party, the revolution, the upside down way of the fool on the Galilean hill-side is here. Behind locked doors and solid walls that we build around ourselves to hide from the world and contain our fear and grief we, like the followers of old, wait. For what do we wait? Is it a Divinely appointed moment? Is it for the powers we fear to finally arrive? Do we barricade ourselves from the overwhelming uncertainty of life or the uncertain certainty of faith exposed by questions and doubts and the unknown that confuses us? Do we hide in shame or seek to escape the tense pulling of a violent, greedy, seductive world that offers much to delight our senses and ease our life? In the midst of what we feel and experience within our being, this one bursts in through these barriers, or rather floats through them and brings blessing and life. He embraces fears and doubts and failures are part and parcel of the struggle to live this dying-rising way of God – forgiven and blessed, empowered to live, we are sent out to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. Ordinary ones bringing life of God in our bumbling uncertain way as we live before this God and follow on the (holy) way. We live with each other in an open, inclusive community of grace that supports and loves, cries and grieves and struggles together with a world yearning and longing and stumbling through darkness to the small infusion of light they glimpse somewhere out there. There’s a song we need to keep singing, teaching, sharing, remembering – a song of love for all people, non-violent and generous in grace and mercy. It is a song sung to new and beautiful tunes that the Divine poet laureate and Composer of universal melody gives to the world in the wind and the rain, the birdsong of morn, the delight of the faunal world in chorus and wonder.
There is a resurrection hope-filled story in our hearts. It echoes out of this story and lifts us up. In the world of darkness and struggle or where there is a searching, knowing yearning, this story touches the heart and invites all into the dying-rising life of God. All of us need a holy makeover of the soul and the mind, the heart and being – a love-filled cleansing that removes the grime we’ve accumulated through engaged living in this paradoxical world.
Can we paint with resurrection colours that lift us into the holy place? We will need some dark ones to bring out the brightness of wonder and awe and love Divine. Resurrection must follow death, a crucified hope and love that rises like the mythical Phoenix from the ashes of hopeless grief – light from darkness, joy from despair. It is this miracle of sacred wonder that promises (threatens?) to turn the world upside down and fill us with a new hope that leads us onward on a journey on that road less travelled that leads to life in fullness amidst all else we feel and experience along the way. The road is not lonely but other pilgrims travel that way, seeking the sacred in the wonder of the ordinary, the ritual, the word, the song, the paintings and poems and the lives well-lived.
Will you journey with this one?
What song will you sing? What will you draw or write or do that lifts the heart into this place of hope-filled life?
Look back over the journey – what do you hear God in Jesus calling you to do and be in this world?
Use the questions from previous weeks to help you ponder and reflect more deeply…