“Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord.’ ”Mary Magdalene was alone, weeping. No one else but her had the courage to go. The One she followed, Jesus, had been brutally executed by the Romans. His body lay in a rocky tomb, and she went there. She went outside “while it was still dark.” The streets of Jerusalem must have been frightening as she made her way beyond the city gates to the tomb in an abandoned rock quarry.
And it got scarier. The tomb was empty; the linens that had wrapped his bloody body strewn on the ground. She dashed back to tell the other disciples—and they ran to the tomb to find it empty. We can only imagine how much worse they felt as they went back to their hiding places. Yet Mary Magdalene stayed and wept. And then she saw a man in the dim light—she thought him to be the gardener. He was standing on the rocky ground that until this moment held only reminders of pain and death.
Who better than a gardener? Then she got it: The gardener was Jesus. Soon the disciples, still in hiding, encountered him. The gardener came to them in closed rooms, and on a road to a town named Emmaus, and he came to a thousand other places just as he comes to me and to you. No linen wrappings, and no symbol we can possibly construct, can con-tain this Risen Christ filling us with light and sounds of grace and new life.
This Easter season watch and listen for the gardener. The Risen Christ speaks to each of us in a thousand ways, each day, in our work and play, in our dreams, in our gardens. And when we listen—truly listen—how will we act? How will our life change this Easter season, and how will we respond in every season of our life?
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For many years, I’ve carried in my prayerbook a postcard I found in an antique store. It has a quote from Anglican “divine” Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667):
What glorious light!
How bright a sun after so sad a night
Does now begin to dawn!
The Very Rev. James Richardson