“Early in the morning on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone was moved away from the entrance.” -John 20:1-2
I have always been struck by how John’s retelling of the resurrection narrative begins: …while it was still dark…Mary comes…the stone is moved away from the entrance to the tomb.” It seems to me there is a gift in this description that lends itself to our own discoveries of the power of resurrection.
In the monastic life of prayer this emergence of light is called the hour of lauds. It is that moment when we receive the gift of the new day at sunrise, discovering not something separate from the darkness, but in continuity with it. It is a discovery that even in darkness, maybe especially in darkness, God has been at work readying creation for a new beginning.
So, resurrection begins while it is still dark. Life expresses itself with an eager longing before the eye can distinguish the forms which will offer shape to the day. You may have noticed that sometimes it is the ear that recognizes this holy emergence before the eye can apprehend it. Jesus appears to Mary and she does not recognize him until he calls her by name.
I wonder if you have ever noticed that birds begin their singing long before the sun showers the earth in light. It is almost as if these little angels announce the profound re-awakening of life through which God’s love has the power to move and make all things new.
John’s text reminds us that such new beginnings have openings that are often surprising to the extent that sometimes we are driven to fear before we are drawn to awe. Our expectations interrupted, we are stopped in such a way that we begin to notice life in great depth.
All of this is part of resurrection’s power and gift, made known to us profoundly in the experience of Jesus and his followers. But this motion of resurrection continues, even now…especially now.
This can be particularly important to notice in this time of the COVID 19 pandemic. Yes, there have been deaths and the terrible grief which accompanies them. Yes, there has been a kind of entombment which sheltering at home has fostered in our hearts and minds.
But there is something more. There is in all of this darkness an urge toward life and connection, generosity and grace. There is a song in the air, if you rise early enough and listen patiently enough, that resonates not just in the ear but also in the heart. It dares to whisper and then shout, “I love you! You belong to me! I will never leave you alone!”
Yes, the sun rises. Yes, the Son rises! Yes, there is a rising all around us. Let us pause to savor it and dare again and again to trust the story ancient that is making itself new with every flower, every bird, every word that utters the sacred refrain, “Christ is risen! Christ is risen, indeed!”
Thanks be to God! Resurrection blessings all around you!