Silence fills the space between us.
We are paralyzed, stunned. Grief has shoveled every bit of life from within and we are empty, hollowed. We have nothing.
Our lives were newly defined by his words. Our every-day was only what he spoke, what he did, where he went.
Everything from before him, it was left behind. Everything after him – he was the middle of it all, the reason for it all.
And now he is gone.
Right before our eyes – the hands that gently blessed children, the hands that broke bread for us, the hands that tenderly washed the dirt from our feet – those hands were torn by their nails. We couldn’t stop them. Our words meant nothing to them. He meant nothing to them.
We couldn’t help him. We, who have been rescued by his words, could not save him.
And maybe it is worse that he didn’t save himself.
We watched these men – these power-grubbing, self-righteous men– accuse him of blasphemy, of treason – and he didn’t do anything to prove them wrong. After what we saw – after the sea and the winds yielding to his voice, after Lazarus walking out of his grave – how could he let those weaker men, men he had outsmarted and outshone so many times before – slap him, insult him, lay a whip across his back?
We thought we would see him deliver this city into our hands. We thought the priests and the people, the soldiers and the kings – we thought they would all bow to his wisdom. We thought we would see him reign.
But we watched him die.
It was not supposed to be like this.
And this is what we are all thinking, this is the question stifling us in silence – what if everything we believed was wrong?
It is suffocating, this thought of him lying dead. It is the end of us.
But we sit here, we sit here together, because who else can understand what we feel? Who else knows the sound of his voice, the mysterious and marvelous wonder of all he was?
One other is missing from this group, one we called brother. It is too much to think about, how he kissed that cheek in the moonlight and ripped us to pieces. Despair and anger, they are weights on our shoulders. Where did it go so wrong?
What will we do now?
It is too late to go backwards, isn’t it, into the lives we used to lead?
We have hands full of these memories, of these visions – we are changed – but how do we go on without him? What does any of it mean without him?
Our teacher, our friend – no one ever listened like he listened. He heard every word that came from our mouths – but at the same time, he heard the language of our souls, all those words underneath what we spoke. He knew what we wanted to hide and those secret hopes of what we might become. He knew what would bring a smile to our faces – and, oh, he loved a from-the-heart smile. Even more, he loved laughter that bubbled up from good and true joys.
He knew our lives, he knew this place – the fishing boats, the seeds and the harvest, the weddings, the temple, the feasts. He knew the sick. It didn’t matter if they were sick in body, heart, or mind – he knew them and he never drew away from their needs. No, he reached out and pulled them close. He healed them, somehow and some way. He changed them.
That was the thing about him – he didn’t shy away from the hard things. When we would want to avoid the hungry, get away from the pleading for one more touch, one more word, one more please – he would have such compassion – and he would give, and give again. He left nothing the way he found it.
We didn’t always understand him. We didn’t always trust him, not enough. But then the demons would flee, the storms would cease, the bread would multiply until we had enough – more than enough.
And he didn’t give up on us, even then. He forgave, again and again, our sin that we could suddenly see so clearly. He forgave, over and over again, the dark places in people who came to him. Never did he reject or shame, never did he turn away those who sought him out in faith. He was patient and passionate, stronger than anyone we have ever known.
In his name, we found power. In his call, we heard a vision for a kingdom entirely different than the one we live in: a kingdom of peace, of the last becoming first, of loving each other more than we love ourselves. This was not a kingdom of our traditions, not a kingdom of those who thought they could make themselves holy – it was a kingdom of the Law fulfilled, the prophets’ voices ringing true, the Most High God dwelling with His people again.
He said he came to show us the God of our fathers. He said he was the Son of our God, the Son who had come to set us free. He said we would reach the Father through him. He said he would prepare a place for us, he said he would never leave us alone.
And yet – he is bound in grave-clothes, imprisoned in a tomb.
While we are here, still, and this darkness makes it hard to see anything but our pain.
You weep, yes, you weep – because what you loved has been lost. You weep because you cannot see, you cannot yet see, that this ending is not The End.
But My children, My children – have you not learned by now?
Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.