Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery's shadow or reflection:
the fact that you don't merely suffer
but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer.
I not only live each day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day
Life had never been that bad for Mary. She wasn't rich like the Pharisees and Sadducees who walked with pious dignity to the temple every Sabbath. But she wasn't so poor that she had to beg alongside the tattered bits of humanity lining the streets of Jerusalem that fine day.
She skirted the people now, frantic to find out if the rumors swirling about Jesus' arrest were true. It was surely a mistake. It wasn't possible the Messiah would be killed. She swallowed back the gnawing fear growing inside her.
No, life had never been that bad before Mary met Jesus. It was more like no existence at all; just a numbing ritual of doing and being. It had all been pointless, really.
Living without being alive.
The Master changed all that. The sound of His voice called to something deep and clean and pure inside her, as if awakening the dead. His piercing eyes seemed to bare her soul. And yet, His presence was the one place she felt safe. Men often argued about whether or not He was the promised Deliverer. Mary only knew He was Life.
Finally, she found Him. She found him dying on a cross, hanging between heaven and earth as if He belonged in neither. His suffering was unspeakable. Mary fought back the urge to lunge at the rough beam holding Him there and somehow bring it down. Instead, she stood frozen at a distance as waves of revulsion rose and tightened into an unspoken scream in her throat. A thick, ungodly darkness fell over the land, mirroring her soul.
The worst part was when it was all over. Back at home she lay in misery upon her cot. Sleep would not come that night, nor the next, nor the next. Every moment of the horrific day replayed in her head: the mocking laughter of the soldiers; the screams and groans of the dying men, the smell of death. There would be no reversal of the court, no last-minute reprieve.
No word from heaven to stop the human farce that declared the innocent one guilty of its own sins.
Jesus' cry, "It is finished" echoed incessantly in Mary's head. She didn't know what He meant, but she knew what it meant for her. Life was finished. The voice that called to her was stilled forever. All that gave her a reason to live lay dead in a borrowed tomb.
Mary's life loomed before her now a dark night to be endured, rather the adventure her Master had made it to be. Every day with Him was a new morning. Anything before Him had been formless and void, and she knew she could never go back. And yet, there was no future without the Master.
Now she was the one left hanging between heaven and earth.
Before the first rays of the day dawned, she arose numbly. The first thing to wash over her was the overwhelming sense of loss in another day without hope. She was gripped with an intense longing to be near Him again. She just had to go to the tomb. Even in death, He drew her to Him.
TO BE CONTINUED... Join me this Sunday morning for the conclusion: "The Dawning"