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Monday, April 25, 2011

Thoughts the Day After Easter

My sister Helen had a lovely idea about the Resurrection.
One time she had to board her dog Whitey at a kennel (this is all going to connect up, believe me). When she arrived days later to pick him up, he was so dejected, he couldn't even raise his head.  He was lying in his crate, looking as if Helen's absence had taken the light out of the world: an impossible, nonsensical event that was too overwhelming to grasp for Whitey's doggy mind.  He did not see Helen because he was too consumed by his own grief to see anything but floor.  But when Helen spoke his name, "Whitey, I'm here for you," he jumped up suddenly reanimated by joy.  She was here!  She had come for him!
Anyone who has a beloved dog has had a similar experience.
Helen says that experience clarified one of the Gospel stories.  According to one of the gospels, when Mary visits the tomb, she mistakes Jesus for a gardener, which seems ridiculous, until you realize like Whitey, Mary would have been so devastated by loss, she would have been able to see little more than the ground.  It wasn't until he spoke to her, Mary realized.  He was here!  He had come for her!
Do I believe in the Resurrection?  Well...  Suffice to say, when I recite the Nicene Creed, I commit perjury about three times.  But if faith is different from belief, if belief means I endorse this or that doctrine whereas faith means knowing that even though I cannot grasp it, all of this life - including the sickness, loss, and disappointment - and the good parts too - love, fulfillment, happiness - that all of that adds up to something, that it means something and has a purpose.  And because the purpose cannot be discovered by any system of logic or rationality, then why shouldn't it be in one sense of the word, illogical, irrational.  Why shouldn't it come from in a form that people would look at and say, "That couldn't have happened!"  "That's impossible!"
That's the hope, the painful unquenchable hope.  Not the Resurrection per se; it wouldn't have to be the Resurrection as far as I'm concerned.  Just that, in my darkest hour, when unstoppable forces have crated me away for inexplicable purposes, and I have no will to raise my head, but can only let the floor, or the blanket or whatever it is, fill my sight because I also lack the will to close my eyes, that in that moment, the voice of someone I love and thought would never return will say, "I'm here."

1 comment:

  1. It always seemed that there was a rather appropriate symmetry to the fact that...both times Jesus is "introduced" (as it were) to the world...the first person who knows and reveals it is named "Mary".
    The first time, when Jesus is to be born (an innocent babe) it is revealed to a young, innocent girl who must have been shocked beyond belief. The second time Jesus is "born" (and a cavern is a frequent metaphor for a womb) is after a life spent among us sinners, even being crucified to pay for our sins. And it is first revealed to a woman who, as a former prostitute, had a rather keen "working knowledge" of sin herself.
    Both times, the people each Mary was closest to...Joseph (her fiance) and the apostles...didn't know what was going on or what to believe. (Since both events were beyond any human comprehension.)
    One can imagine Joseph's friends sitting around with their arms around his shoulders, passing around a jug of wine and commiserating: "Yeah, that's what SHE says!"
    And when the second Mary runs back to the apostles, Peter and John are the only two who go to investigate...and don't know WHAT to believe when they find the stone moved and the burial shroud empty. They don't even return to the other apostles...they just go home and wonder what's coming next. (After all...a dead man reviving happens about as often as a virgin has a baby, right?)

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