"Mary." It was whispered so quietly she barely heard. She crept silently to the window and spoke to the shadow outside. "Yes, Naomi, I'm coming." She wrapped her heavy robe about her, pulled her hair back tightly and bound it, then covered it with a dark shawl. Her swollen, red-rimmed eyes and streaked, shadowed face revealed the grief ebbing and flowing in her heart.
She and her friends were going to Jesus' grave to complete the burial rites begun, but not completed, after the crucifixion. She dreaded the chore. Seeing His bruised, torn body would be heart-wrenching. But a worse thought, and one that impelled her to this morning's task, was that Jesus might be left untended if she didn't go.
As she stepped into the early morning darkness, Naomi took Mary's arm. "His mother isn't coming. She said to tell you she trusts you to see this through. She can't bear to see him just now. She'll come later--when we've finished--and say her farewells.
Mary nodded. She certainly understood. If this was hard for her, his friend, how much more difficult for his mother.
A few small groups of women followed Mary and Naomi along the road to Joseph's garden carrying cloths, spices, and other burial elements. As the sun rose over the horizon, the eastern sky showed streaks of rose and pale pink. The trees bordering the road were a nearly luminous shade of green in the light of dawn.. All creation glowed in its beauty, a striking contrast to the bleak hearts in the little procession.
"What about the soldiers?" The question surfaced and then hung in the air. The women paused and looked at each other in consternation.
"What about the stone? ... How are we to move it?"
No men had come and the Romans couldn't be expected to accommodate the women.
Suddenly the air was full of questions. Admittedly they should have been asked and resolved earlier. But, in their grief, they simply hadn't thought of these details.
Mary felt an irritation growing. Her old bravado surfaced. With an edge of rebelliousness to her words she said, I don't know how it will work, but I promise you, they won't stop us. Now, let's go. And spurred on by Mary's determination, the women walked resolutely toward the garden.
After the Resurrection of her Lord Jesus, she told this story so many times. She was a garden care-giver where he had been buried and had risen, and when people came through, she shared her story so they would be filled with encouragement.
“I still smile when I remember that Resurrection day. Of course, at the time, when first seeing him, I was terrified, but I truly can't believe I didn't know who he was. At the very least I should have recognized the love and acceptance in his eyes ... that had drawn me to him when he had touched my life... and since then it has never changed.
“So I come here. To rest and to remember. To share my story, my life with him.
“In our world, pain and suffering surround us. People are dying – often on the INside. Not because they want to, but, just as I was, before the Lord Jesus came into my life, they simply don't know how to live.
“I still hurt, for myself and for others. I still question. But I can never doubt. No matter how black the night in my soul or looming the problems, or large the ghosts that confront me, I know that I know that I know that God loves ME. And that one shaft of light will always cut through the darkness that occasionally surrounds me – and comfort me and bring me out on the other side of my pain, of my sorrow – to wholeness, to joy and to life.”
And, sharing, she always ended with a smile and her arms lifted up to the Lord, and saying,
“Thank you for your crucifixion for our sins .. and for your resurrection. Oh, my Lord Jesus, thank you.”