As we prepare to celebrate Easter it’s Mary and the other women who hold my attention. Their early morning approach to the tomb while it was still dark. Their hearts readied to prepare a body for burial, a final act of adoration and farewell. I imagine their hearts racing as their hands carry humble oils and spices, this their concluding moment to adorn him with all that they had. The agony of goodbye and only a fading thread to what could have been.
"When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body... Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb" ( Mark 16 and John 20)
Loss is excruciating but the emptiness that follows is crushing. Left behind, our hearts ache like a vacant chamber marked by grief and disappointment, the days can be long and the nights longer. These are the roads we all walk in the dark. Empty tombs surrounded by painful memories and all the what-ifs. It’s a terrifying path, to venture into loss keeping our hearts supple and vulnerable, when all we want to do is hide or bury ourselves in busyness.
The end of a relationship, rich with so much promise.
An empty womb after the loss of a child.
A failed marriage. A betrayal. A goodbye.
As I reflect on my own life I could learn a lot from Mary. I’ve ran away from the tomb probably more times than I’ve ventured towards it. I’ve felt let down and disappointed, I’ve been attacked and accused and I’ve experienced tragedy so deep that I felt like I was suffocating from grief. I thought if I kept working, took some time away or even ignored it all I’d eventually feel more victorious and filled.
But recently I’ve been discovering that empty tombs lead us to fertile gardens. And like Mary, it’s here we meet the savior who speaks our name. Perhaps in a small and fragile way, our places of absence and loneliness can be an invitation to know Him more intimately than ever before. Our vulnerable hearts are exactly the place where Christ calls us to draw near and where all our empty places are redeemed.
Easter is the undoing of emptiness. It sings resurrection intimacy and brings with it the promise that every hollow tomb can be filled with the sound of His voice and the touch of new life.
This Easter, may we all be like Mary. Brave enough to walk dark paths and face vaulted graves, burdened with humble desire to simply touch Him, and astonished to find that He indeed lives and we can declare, “I have seen the Lord!”