It is night in Jerusalem. It is the night after the Passover meal. The Seder has been kept. The Jewish families are asleep.
Pontius Pilate is asleep in his palace, with his fingers crossed in his small, manicured hands, with his conscience suffocated…
Mrs. Pilate can’t get to sleep. She is still angry with him for not heeding her dream about that Jew he had crucified. But she knows he always gives in to the strongest push.
Herod is asleep, dreaming bad dreams, dreaming of the prophet he had decapitated, and confusing him with the one he had crucified.
The temple priests are asleep, exhausted after doing their butcher’s work in killing the lambs for Passover, and cutting their throats. They still have blood on their hands.
The disciples of Jesus can’t close their eyes, they have seen too much, they don’t know if they are next, they don’t know if they are alive or dead, or if they will ever feel alive again. They are afraid, and cannot move. They cannot sleep.
There are three young women, very awake, running around, out of breath, running around a city cemetery in the dark. The have come to honour the corpse of their friend, to show respect for their dead. They are afraid, but they run. They don’t know how to roll the stone away from the tomb, but still they run. They don’t know how to anoint a crucified body now buried for a day or so, but still they carry their oils. They don’t know what might happen when they get there…or what they can do, or is it nothing at all?
On their way, in the darkness, the earth has tremors, the earth cannot sleep, the temple veil is torn, the tombs in the cemetery open up, and give up their dead….who walk into and around the city….they are going home.
And then there is silence. It is as though a point of no return has been reached. There has been no loud explosion. The busyness of the ages has died. Sleep itself is asleep.
BUT - there is a change, a change in the air, a change in the silence. It is bigger than any sound. It is bigger than silence. It is a gentle breeze.
There is an astonishing calm. There is no feeling of revenge, or vengeance, or reprisal. There is respect for all those who sleep. There is respect for Pilate’s guilt and his wife’s anger, for Herod’s agitation, for the priests’ exhaustion, for the sterile games of the doctors of the law. There is respect for the sleeping families who have celebrated Passover. There is a feeling of pardon, for free, without publicity, without anyone knowing. Enemies are loved here. No one knew what they were doing. They still don’t.
There is a sense of astonishing silence, like the silence Elijah felt in his cave. There is a sense that Love has been given, has been lost, and yet is here, again, in this cemetery. Now. In this stillness.
Fear of dying is deep in everyone. In the process of dealing with it, we meet impasses, that is, situations without outcomes, situations we cannot resolve and yet cannot ignore. The make or break point comes with total, humble acceptance of this impotence. It is at that point that we make a conscious decision to do nothing and obey the unresolvableness of reality. Jesus did.
Moses spent forty years in Midian doing nothing much for the Hebrews. He lived in the solitude of an impasse. Only then, when he tasted it fully, could he see the burning bush. He not only asked the Bush who the Bush was (I am who am). He went on to ask the Bush who he, Moses, was. The only answer was - I am will be with you. Moses was never told who he was. He just slipped into another reality…
Elijah went into the impasse of knowing he could go on no more. He was no better than all the others. Only then did he feel the gentle breeze.
In this gentle breeze, is - the new creation.
In the Father’s new creation, there is a place for all, indeed there are many places for the many. And there is one place where no one, no one, shall remain. There is a surety that no one shall be forever in a closed tomb.
It is as though a birth has happened, and it has happened tonight here in this cemetery…
A new world is born. It is the real genesis of everything. A new human is born in it. This place ought to be renamed Bethlehem.
This is the first night of the new creation. It is the beginning of a new kind of evolution. It is a new mutation in humanity as community. There is otherness here, and difference, there is no more monotone or monotony, recto tono is not right any more. Listen to the birds on this Easter morning. They are singing, early, each of them differently, because all are alive here.
As the sun rises, take your first walk in the garden of this new world. The Risen One is already there, he awaits you, he wants the pleasure of your company, he calls you by name, and he assures you there is nothing ever to fear again. He tells you he loves his garden. He hopes you will enjoy it too. His style is not spectacular, it is hidden, as it always was. He is always hidden, he is always there. He always knew how to live among whitened sepulchres… Maybe that is why they killed him, and wanted to put him in one of them. Maybe that is why he rose from those closed tombs into an open world. He already lived a given life, an open life. He is the only one in that cemetery who does the gardening…
Don’t try to hold him, or grasp him, or understand him, don’t try to hug him, even mentally. He’s too alive for that…. And he can make you alive with that new life he now has…
‘He who believes in me, he will do what I have done, and he will do more still. … I will go to the Father, and I will make sure the Father is completely happy with all of you his children…’
He will see you in Galilee, he goes before you there. It is the meeting point of all the cultures of humanity, in full globalization, in the full life of resurrection. Go, meet him again for the first time…. He is rising, he is risen, in you.