Fitful sleep – interrupted by night noises coming up from the streets, each bringing a fresh wave of terror. It is hard to sleep on alert. Or should have been… and again, the shame washes over them. If only…
The dull gray lightening of the eastern sky signals approaching dawn. Just moments ago the ground itself shook with the force of an earthquake. Taking advantage of the confusion, they began to slip out in ones and twos. Any more would be to invite notice. Returning to the homes that would be all the life they would ever know.
She slipped out with the other women. One last thing to do. One last service to offer. One last gift. The rush of Sabbath’s approach cut short proper preparation. Women’s work. Clinging to each other in the pre-dawn darkness they made their way down once familiar, now foreign, streets – into the valley and out the gate just after it had opened. Many passing this way were heading home from Passover – no one noticed them hidden in the crowd.
Separating from the crowd just past the mount, the women made their way into the garden they had left a life-time two days ago. They were worried. About the guard posted. About the seal. About the stone. Their love forged a courage that pressed on until they came to the final turn and… There!
The stone rolled away! The grave open! The guard gone! The seal broken! They ran – only Peter and John were left – they came, not believing the tale. John first – stops – Peter rushes in – its empty – save for the grave clothes, the head piece. John began to speak of resurrection! Such foolishness for a simple, broken-hearted woman. And then they all left – going back to their homes and places. But she had nowhere to go. He was all she had. And now, even his body was gone. She collapsed in tears – pouring out the anguish still oozing from her broken heart.
Gradually aware that she was not alone, she lifted her head and saw two men sitting in the grave. “Why are you weeping?” Answering them, she turns at the sound of a new voice. “Why are you weeping?” She pours out her grief to the gardener. “Tell me where he is – I will do right by him – I will take him away.” And then the silence thickened around her as she waited – eyes red and down cast. “Just tell me – so I know what to do…”
And then, the sound her heart had been tuned to hear caused her soul to vibrate with hope, her spirit to rise up in her with unspeakable joy beyond understanding.
Her name on his laughing lips was all the gospel she would ever need. “Why are you weeping?”