Miriam’s Garden

It was still dark when I came to the garden early that Sunday morning. I had not slept for grief; I had cried all the tears I had, but knew I had more to cry. The one whom I loved was dead. I had said good-bye, but I knew there were more goodbyes to say. I longed with every fibre of my body to see him again, or at least to see his body again.

The dark was so deep I could not see. I could only feel my way along the edge of the cliff outside Jerusalem into which the tombs are hewn. I stumbled into the garden.

The very first light of day was pale and wan; a grey that showed the outline of the steep wall of tombs and reflected the devastation and desolation I felt.

I was alone. My world had ceased to exist, and somehow I was still alive, but with no purpose. There was no reality – except my overwhelming grief.

The light changed from grey to a gentle pink. I don’t know whether it was the few tears still left in my eyes, or whether it was really this new light, but I thought I saw a ray of pink light strike a dewdrop hanging on a leaf of one of the garden plants. The light split and refracted and struck dewdrops all over the garden. For a second, the whole garden seemed to bloom with weak incandescence.

It was enough light to see that the front of the tomb was open.

I ran.

I ran away.

I didn’t know what I was doing. I ran and ran, and my legs carried me to Peter’s house. “The tomb’s open! It’s empty!” I didn’t really know what I was saying.

Peter got John. They raced each other to the tomb and looked into the indefinite darkness. They too saw that the tomb was empty. But they didn’t understand what they saw. I could see the bewilderment on their faces as I waited outside.

They went home.

I was a little calmer. I went inside. The dawn light was just strong enough for me to see that the grave clothes were lying there, just as they would have been if he had been there. The head cloth was lying to one side.

And again I don’t know if it was just the few dry tears in my eyes, or if I really saw the two beings at each end of the grave stone.

“Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away, and I don’t know where they have lain him.”

I stumbled outside, and there was another human presence out in the garden. I thought he must be the gardener. He too spoke.

“Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away, and I don’t know where they have lain him. Sir, if you know where he is, please tell me.” For I wanted to see him.

Then his voice, so familiar, the voice I can only cherish.

“Miriam.”

“My Teacher. My Lord.”

Then the tears rushed again. Now not tears of grief, but tears of relief, tears of joy. The morning sun streamed into the garden and all was light.

I ran again and told Peter and John that he was risen. That the empty tomb did not mean his absence, but it meant he was present in a way that would keep him near me for the rest of my life and throughout eternity.

I had seen enough hints and glimpses into eternity in that garden to know it was true. He is risen from the dead.

****

My translation of John 20:1-18 is here.

****

Questions for reflection or group discussion.

I am always shocked at the depth of pain of Mary even in the face of Jesus’ resurrection. Reflect on how pain may be an unavoidable part of love.

When have you felt at the beginning of something new?

Write the story of someone who discovers the secret of eternal life.

I am always shocked at the depth of pain of Mary even in the face of Jesus’ resurrection. Reflect on how pain may be an unavoidable part of love.

When have you felt at the beginning of something new?

Write the story of someone who discovers the secret of eternal life.

Advertisements