“I shall not die, but live.” – Ps. 118:17
Two months ago, my best friend lost her 36-year-old brother to cancer. Every day since he died, her four-year-old daughter asks the same question, “Can I see him one more time?”
The room across the hall is now an empty tomb. Every day she and her mom replay the conversation: yes he is still gone, no he isn’t coming back, I know you miss him. Shae persists: “I know he is gone, but I just want to see him one more time. Take me to his grave then, let me look at him one more time.”
This is the prayer of Mary Magdalene, who stands at attention before the tomb. What is she looking for in there? She is looking for a glimpse of her love, a glimpse of her treasure. Like Shae, Mary Magdalene knows in her head that the one she loves is gone; but her heart longs to connect with whatever fragmented pieces of him may remain.
Jesus responds to Mary Magdalene in the Eucharist, where he invites her to come and meet him one more time. Like old friends going to the playground where they first met or spouses recreating their first date or a little girl looking into the room across the hall where her uncle died, Jesus invites each of us back to the place where he fell more deeply in love with us than ever before.
The tomb is this special, intimate place of both death and resurrection. At each Eucharist, the altar becomes that very tomb. I bring my deep fears, pains, and even pie-in-the-sky hopes. I cram them inside the tomb next to Jesus and roll the stone over them to seal them away. As I move through the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the deadness slowly sheds from whatever I brought with me and new life begins to emerge.
Shae’s laughter echoes through the house as she plays with my infant daughter. Each day sadness and joy mingle inside her.
Every empty room, every altar of sacrifice, every little girl’s heart becomes a tomb.
Am I clinging to the remains of what was, rather than making space for something new? Have I allowed my own heart to be a place of both death and Resurrection?
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