Mary in the Garden

Robert Pfeiffer with an meditation for Easter morning

She walks slowly through the garden. The fresh green around her seems unfocused, unreal. Her steps seem to have little purpose, as one follows the other. Yet somehow they take her towards the rock face into which the tombs are hewn.

How can it be that he is no longer with them? Does not everything around her and inside her depend on him and live in communication with him? The wind that he calmed, the trees that he blessed (and cursed!), the city below her over which he wept, her mind that he liberated from demons, her life that he transformed forever. For him to be out of this world and for this world to be without him makes no sense.

Images haunt her mind. The thorns cutting into his head, his whipped and bleeding body, collapsing under the heavy cross, the nails driven through his feet and through his hands, the man hung on a tree left to die in agony. She wants to hate the men who have perpetrated this but always his eyes come back to her, seem to look into her eyes, into her soul. In those eyes was no hate, was no accusation, in those eyes was forgiveness only. Forgiveness and immense, all consuming pain. Such pain which even the cruel torture of the cross seemed incapable to explain. Pain that ebbed and flowed, a sea, an ocean of pain all in the eyes of one man. How she felt that these eyes would overflow with all that pain, overflow and breach the dykes of what a soul can bear.

None of us could be with him in this his most lonely hour, she thinks. We were all afraid, powerless, overwhelmed and bereft of all hope. Never had we witnessed a situation that he had not been able to lead us through. Never had we seen him hang his head, his arms stretched in utter defeat. Where was his father to whom he had spoken so regularly, spoken like one who cannot be separated from this father in heaven?

She rebukes herself as this thought runs through her head. Even after the devastating events she has witnessed, it seems to go contrary to everything her Lord has taught her. Yet the chasm between belief and the world’s harsh realities has never seemed so great. She strives to recall the times when God was a source of comfort and not this terrible despair.

Suddenly, in front of her, up rises the rock face, pock marked by the individual tombs, each one covered by a heavy stone. His grave is here to the left she knows and she looks for the massive stone the soldiers had rolled in front of the tomb to make sure no one could take away his body. There it is. Her eyes widen with astonishment, her mouth seeks to form a word to give expression to her bewilderment. The stone is rolled aside and there, open before her, is his tomb.

Now she is running, forgetting that this is a solemn place, careless of what others may think of her behaviour. She reaches the entrance, steps inside the empty tomb and finds nothing but the cloth that covered the dead rolled up, lying in a corner.

She is overcome by terror and confusion. Dazed, she stumbles out of the tomb, frantically seeking help, help from anyone who may happen to come into the gardens, anyone who perchance may be near. "Sir," she addresses a stranger who has just walked up to the rock face, "Sir, please help me!"

Calmly he replies, "Why are you crying? What are you looking for?"

Thinking he is the gardener, she says "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him."

Jesus says to her, "Mary."

She turns towards him and cries out, "Rabboni!"