I push through the crowd, shorter than all of the men around me. There are few women, though it’s hard to tell since everyone’s voices blend together as they yell, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” The words bleed through my heart and strip the hope from my veins, the oxygen from my blood. My Lord is before the crowd, with Pilate, and I cannot reach him…
I cannot reach him.
The crowd shifts suddenly to one side, driving their hatred into the streets as fear and rage spill over the stones and soak the dust. I’m washed away with the crowd and I find myself in a wave of mourning women. I turn to my left and I’m staring into the face of my Lord.
The colors of the setting sun cannot compare to the crimson streaks scarring his face. Tears brim his eyes and the weight of the heavy tree seems to bore into his shoulders. I reach for him, but my body is caught between two other women and a man. My Lord looks to me and…and my word…he smiles. A grin of understanding pierces the bloody guise of his face, and he speaks.
“Do not weep for me…”
And I hear no more. The volume of the crowd rises and crashes over into Golgotha and I am overwhelmed with anxiety and fear and longing. I hear his howling as the Roman guards drive nails into his wrists, though I can’t see any of it since I’m still struggling through the crowd, his mother, whose name is also Mary, struggling beside me. Her face and her tears mirror mine.
As the tree is raised, crudely displaying the True Vine, the two of us make our way to the front of the crowd to stand before him next to John, the disciple my Lord loved and the son of Zebedee. I grab onto the sleeve of his robe, crying and sobbing as I fall to my knees, watching the bloodied body of my Lord sag like a rotting sacrifice, and I can’t bear it. The guards destroy and divide his clothing like ravenous brutes and my heart is angered and distraught. “King of the Jews” it says above my Lord, who wears a crown of thorns piercing his temples, causing blood to run into his eyes.
He looks to Mary, his mother, saying with forced breath, “Woman, behold thy son!” then to John, and saying, “Behold, thy mother!”
Through blinding tears I looked to John and to Mary, and an understanding of John’s responsibility passes between them. But I am at the feet of my Lord, weeping, sobbing, begging the guards to bring him down, to give him back to us. I breathe into the dirt, my face touching the ground, and I whisper “He’s innocent, he’s innocent.”
But while I cry, I hear the soothing voice of my Lord one final time, during which he says, with his final breath, “It is finished.”
My heart is exposed as I walk along the dirt path to the sepulcher of my Lord, the place where his beaten body is buried, never to move again. Neither the pebbles along the path nor the stone closing the tomb can compare to the size of the boulder weighing down my heart. My Lord is gone from me.
I move like a phantom as I wander with my spices towards the sepulcher. I lift up my head to lay my eyes upon my Lord’s resting place, and I drop the bottles to let them shatter on the path.
The stone is rolled away, and the guard is nowhere to be seen.
I lift my skirts up and begin running with all the speed I can muster to confirm my most frightening thoughts. I lean into the doorway against the cold stone of the tomb and see my fears are true: someone has stolen the body of my Lord. Running through tears and deranged breathing I reach Simon Peter, son of John, and John, son of Zebedee, to tell them of this devastating news.
We three run back to the sepulcher for the disciples to see what I say is true. I stand there, observing as they touch the linens and search the tomb. The linens look as if his body faded from them, except the head covering, which was folded neatly away from the other linens. What could this mean? What has happened to my Lord? Where is he?
The disciples, though hurt it seems, leave me to return to their homes, leave me to mourn once more. It’s early, so that the dew of the rain is mixed in with my tears. Someone has taken my Lord away from me for the second time. I am alone. I cannot feel him. I cannot hear him. And now, because his body has been stolen, I can no longer even see him. I stand in the middle of the tomb.
Two angels appear, but I am not in awe of their presence or the light of their person, because the one Light I could not live without has been smoldered, snuffed out, destroyed. They ask me why I’m crying, and after answering them a gardener enters the tomb and asks me the same question. I don’t want to answer questions: all I want is my Lord. My heart aches for him, and my soul requires his healing touch. I ask the gardener where my Lord is, but he doesn’t answer me. And then, as I continue to weep tears of deepest sorrow to fill up the pit in my chest, which has depths greater than infinite fathoms, the wind carries my name like a whisper, and I realize this is no gardener to whom I am speaking. This is He, my Lord, my King, my Savior.
He is risen.