Thursday, March 28, 2013
Beautiful Darkness...An Easter Story Part II
It's a curious morning ... I'm walking in the garden and a woman is sitting on a stone bench watching me as I walk. She looks familiar, as though I have seen her before. Oh yes, it was three days ago ... when she looked at me in the darkness ...
"Good morning," she acknowledges me. Its too late to duck my head and quickly pass her by so I nod but continue my pleasant journey through the garden sweetened by the scent of blossoms.
"Did you hear the news?" she stands and begins to walk beside me. I stifle a sigh.
"No, no I didn't," my reply is polite, but short.
"He is risen," she states. There is joy on her face, but not for herself. It is for me. I can't comprehend why.
"Congratulations." I don't really care. She can live in her dellusion.
"Do you know Him?" she smiles.
"No," I sniff. She had already asked me three days before. Now she smiles and touches my arm.
"You will, you will."
I look down at the ground and kick a stone with my shoe. When I look up she has disappeared down an opposite path. I stare at the waving branches of a rose bush she must have brushed as she passed by.
Shaking my head, I continue on. There's a curious cave with a stone rolled away. It stands to my left. I peer inside but it's dark. Only some cloths lay folded on a stone slab. I shrug to myself. Strange place to rest. And, the emptiness inside agrees with me.
As I round a corner and pause to watch a mourning dove dip across the path in flight, a man is at my side. I don't know where he came from. This time I don't hide my sigh. I have seen him before too.
"Do you understand?" the man tips his head in the direction of the empty cave.
"Why it is empty?"
"Why should I care?" I counter, irritated. Please leave me alone. My life is peaceful when you're not interrupting it with foreign ideas of dead men who save people who don't need saving.
"Because..." the man crouches on the ground and draws a word in a patch of dirt. I narrow my eyes.
Why do these people want to talk about something so obscure? What is sin?
"Sin separates you from Him," the man rises to his feet.
I breathe in deeply and let it out loudly. I want him to know he is annoying me. I want him to leave me alone on this beautiful morning.
"I live a good life," I argue, though I'm not sure why I give him the satisfaction.
"Do you?" the man smiles. "I don't. I've made mistakes. I've covered them in temporary happiness. Wine. Love. Wealth. Entertainment. I don't like to stop and think deeply about who I am. But He asked me to, and when I did, I saw sin."
"Lucky you," I retort sarcastically.
"No, not lucky. Condemned. I cannot stand before a perfect God impure and judged."
"Your God isn't so understanding then." I start to move on but the man follows me. Please, go away.
"My God is just. He demands perfection."
I don't answer. I still don't care.
"That's why that is so important." He points.
How did we get back to the empty cave? The garden path must have wound in a circle and I didn't notice. But there is the cave, the massive stone rolled to one side, and the morning sun highlighting it like a spotlight.
"Jesus is alive."
"So I've heard," I mumble. I've no where else to go. I'm lost in this garden. The paths all seem to lead back to the cave.
"He paid your price and bought you perfection."
"Do you want it?"
"Me?" I shake my head. "Not particularly." I close my eyes briefly and when I open them, the man is gone.
It is a beautiful place, this graveyard. I realize that it's a grave now, where the dead man had been buried. So where was His body? I sink to the ground. The questions have started me thinking - I really don't want to think deeply. My life is fine the way that it is. God is God, I am me, all is right ... is it?
I feel a hand on my shoulder. It's the gardener. At least I think it is.
"Yes?" I ask. Maybe I'm not supposed to be here.
"Follow me," he says. I stand and follow him. He leads me to a hill and in the distance I see a cross reflected in the dawning sun. It's beautiful, in an eery sort of way.
"Can I just be alone?" the questions ... they are plaguing me ... maybe I do need saved from myself. Dark memories are surfacing. Ones I've buried deep within. Ones that could bring me to my knees. Wait. I am on my knees. How did I get here? I look up at the gardener. His face is turned away from me, but his hand is still on my shoulder. He's not moving, he's not speaking. I look away.
Maybe the dead man really is alive. I mean, miracles do happen. I wonder if the gardener saw anything? Maybe he could explain it. I glance up at the gardner but - wait - he isn't there, but I still feel his hand on my shoulder. How odd.
I rise to my feet but still feel like kneeling for some reason ... then I see them - it's the man and the woman. Simple humans just like me, but who seem to have a story to tell.
"Who are you?" I ask.
"Who are you?" they reply.
"I - I don't know anymore ..."
"Come. Let's go visit the cross." they both rise and look at me expectantly.
I stand slowly, then I turn and ... can you see this? can you see them? should I go? If do, won't my life have to change? Who am I? they ask. Well, I am you. Will you go to the Cross today, then will you visit the empty tomb? There's more than a story there ... there is ... hope.