Exhausted and filled with grief, they made their way down the dusty path. All they could feel was loss . . . of a friend, but somehow more than that . . . of a new way to live life, but somehow more than that . . . of hope, but somehow more than that.

With the light just beginning to break through the darkness, they could not imagine the day ahead. It was their job to prepare the body for burial, to lift the heavy limbs, wash they dried blood, and coat the body with oil.

As they made their way around the bend, they saw the stone rolled off to the side. The dark entrance filled them with fear. What awaited them in the tomb? Hesitating at the threshold, wanting to turn around, they entered only to find two cloths draped over the slab of rock. It was where the body was supposed to be, where they were to prepare it for burial, but now there were only blood-stained cloths.

“Who took the body?” one said to the other.

“Who could be so cruel?”

Suddenly a gust of wind blew into the tomb and they felt the air around them change, the stench of death ushered into the morning.

“He’s not here,” it’s as if the wind said. “He is risen!”

Alleluia.

I cannot imagine what the two did with that news, that belief. They were the first to know what would be shared throughout the world for thousands of years. For each, the moment would be life-changing, life-giving, but, like the breeze itself, it caused their hearts to swirl and heads spin.

How can it be that such a thing could happen? What does it mean? How can life take the place of death? Are we really to believe such a thing after all these years?

Each Easter, I am faced with the reality of an empty tomb. The joy and hope are offered anew, but the distance of time invites my doubts and confusion to come along for the ride.

Outside my office, I hear the men talking. The newest resident at this long-term rehab community is lost and bewildered. All he can see is the pain and death of his past. Advised by an older resident to just put one foot in front of the other, they walk together down the dusty path of recovery. There’s so much loss to talk about, but he takes the advice and continues to meander forward.

“I didn’t know where to turn,” the new resident explained. “But something lead me here. I’d never heard of the place, and, to be honest, I hesitated when the cab pulled in the driveway. I wanted to tell him to turn around, but I had no other address to give him, so I entered.”

“And we’re glad you did,” the other brothers replied. With that, the new resident was handed two bright new T shirts. “These are yours. You wear these whenever you are out on a job. Think of them as part of your new life.”

“My new life?”

“Yes, all that has happened is past. Today is a new day, a new dawn. Think of it as a gift, a gift of new life.”

A gust of wind blew the blossoms of a nearby tree as if to say: “He’s not here. He is risen!”

Alleluia.

 

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