Sometimes we come to understand these amazing, mysterious stories best through the gift of imagination. Here is a meditation that came to me as I was reflecting and praying on the Easter story as told in John 20: 11-18, the same story the poems address (see previous post). It came to me to look at the story from the point of view of one of the angels in the tomb. Here is a meditation/midrash on this passage, in the angel's voice, imagining what the angel sees:
In this garden, heaven and earth are joined. But the woman cannot see this. She has loved, she is grieving, the one she has loved seems to have disappeared. She is desperate with grief. She cannot see -- her eyes and heart are not accustomed to the mystery of the garden - that He is here, talking to her. She will see it soon but she has not seen it yet.
I try to awaken her to the new reality -- thinking that if she sees an angel of light -- 2 of us, really, at the head and foot of where the body was -- she will wake up. Woman, why are you weeping? I ask her: the question they all will hear, stepping into this garden, this tear in the fabric of place and time -- where what they called "heaven" is manifest in what they called earth -- and they see what angels see, but know it as something like what they have known in life as "flesh" -- sensing, perceiving, touching, loving.
That's what it takes for her: she needs to hear His voice -- so when she cannot hear it from the angels, He calls to her himself, in the same words: Woman, why are you weeping? he says -- that divine invitation: Come to the garden, let me wipe away your tears.
Still she does not see where she is or who she's speaking to: she thinks she's still by the side of the tomb and so she is. She does not know that death as she understood it has been transformed. Here at the heart of life, she is still weeping, and the One she weeps for stands beside her, loving her -- and finally, calling her by name: Mary.
That's what it takes to wake her up to the new life that is blooming here -- in the garden that is and is not the place she thought she was in. He calls her by name, and finally she recognizes him and touches this mysterious, transformed flesh that shall be hers as well -- in this foretaste and fulfillment of beatitude -- the fullness of life that He intends for all. He sends her out to tell them that it has all been fulfilled. It has all begun.
- Kathleen Henderson Staudt
- I work as a teacher, poet and spiritual director at a number of institutions in the DC area. My teaching focuses in various ways on writing, poetry, Spirituality and Christian vocation and ministry - especially from the point of view of the laity. I also offer classes and retreats encouraging people to explore their inner lives, engage their creativity and reflect on their beliefs about God, vocation, and how we can discern and pursue new ways to transform our broken world. I enjoy speaking of faith in the secular academy as well as reminding those preparing for ministry in the Church that our primary purpose is to love and serve the world beyond the church's doors. I love helping people to grow in faith and to find their own voices, and I also love encouraging them to use their minds. I see no contradiction between these impulses, believing as I do that faith, reason and creativity work together.