Saturday, March 30, 2013

saturday: hades

I have a Hades heart. It is the blackness of the tomb we laid him in today. His mother and Mary and Martha and Junia and myself and John and Joseph, the councilman from Arimathea who carried his body in the pouring rain, carried it with John. Martha gave us her cloak and we ripped it so we could tie pieces around his feet and hands to catch his blood. This councilman, Joseph, was so kind: we told him he is the first true follower of Our Lord's death. He put up his hands in humility. He said he had done nothing: the money he paid to remove our Lord from the cross was less than the cost of a temple dove. I told him my Lord would like that.

Now it is much later and I have come back into the Kidron, to the place where we made our fire while he was teaching. I have come here on my own, slipping away from the others and even Junia. I find there the few last traces of our group: a sandal, a broken piece of bread, the empty fire. I leave it almost as soon as I arrive and go back into the hill. I want to be in the place where my Lord went night after night. The mountain is empty, the stars are out. I stumble in and out of the graveyard, walking its edge, the stones of our ancestors upright in the moonlight. The rain has washed everything without leaving it clean. The ground is still wet. The wind is gentle, it stirs my garments. It seems to circle me, though its breath is small. There is the quiet wind and the drooping trees and the sad stars.

And there is my Hades heart.

For the cost of a temple dove, they gave him to us. For the cost of a temple dove, we could pull the nails from his feet and his hands. (Joseph put these nails in the fold of his garment to take away with him.) We could lift him and straighten his body and put his arms at his sides. And we could carry him through the rain, our feet caked in mud, wet earth spattering our legs. We could carry him to a place that the councilman had found, a fresh tomb. And there, by the light of torches, and as the moon rose and the men stepped out for sabbath prayers, I could hold him one last time. How warm his body still was! How still were his eyes. The marks of flogging made his mother weep. We all wept. The rain stopped then, and the sun emerged just before setting. By the light of torches and the dying light of sun we pulled the thorns from his head and bathed his wounds, keeping all the pieces of bloodied cloth, keeping all the blood of him together. Soldiers came then and we were made to leave. Even in death he has no peace.

Some time in the hours after we left, the soldiers came and rolled a stone in front of the tomb, in the case that we might steal him. As if we might steal something that belongs to us. I feel finally the anger that he had all last week. I am flooded with it. I am filled with weeping and washing of rain and lamenting and anger. Now I must worry about how we will anoint him. He must be anointed. Huddled here on the mountain, staring into the stars, I try to conceive of a way.

Instead, I myself am anointed by silence. It is the first silence I have known in days, since I hid in Gethsemane with my Lord and the others. I lean against a tree and stare at the moon. It is rounding, moving to be new again. Alone with God, I start to weep again, and weep uncontrollably. I do not cry out, for fear of being heard. I have had so much scolding and derision, chastisement and mocking; there has been so much danger.

Now that he is gone, I am nothing. I talk to him, ask him to give me a sign. Something to show me how to go on, how to be the person I was when he was here. I am nothing now, I tell him. I am just a woman to my women. I have his teachings in my heart and no one to teach. The twelve have deserted me, and each other. Only John is here; only John has come back. He disliked me when you were here, I tell my Lord. How will we ever find a way of teaching, now that you are gone? My mind turns to Judas and I beg my Lord to intervene with the Lord our God, the Lord of our ancestors for mercy on him. He has not been seen since yesterday. Since the day they did this terrible thing.

I pray and chatter quietly and weep like this for hours. Then I am quiet, just as my Lord was that night in the garden: so anguished, then suddenly quiet. A slow peace starts within me. I feel him suddenly, feel him so near, so present that I look around for him as if I might actually see him. I call out to him. But there is nothing. It is the same presence, as it was whenever we were with the others and he could read my mind, find my thoughts, from the midst of a crowd. I wait, hoping for words or a sign, but there is none.

Still, a peace has girded me. I feel stronger now.

The wind has increased and lifts me, draws me to my feet. It stirs the grass around me in small, eddying circles. I begin to walk away, back toward the house of my friends. Soon I will be in their embrace and we will talk of nothing else for the rest of the night and we will weep and lament and call to God with psalms. But right now as I walk, there is only this wind that is always near me. And there are these stones and epitaphs of the graveyard, the faces of our forefathers buried in the mount, lifting their stone-white voices to heaven.


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Sherry Coman said...

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