Sunday, April 5, 2015

The One He Loved (Holy Week series, final part)

The Resurrection
John was still falling through the cracks on the morning the tomb was empty. He did not dare to reach for something to hold on to. He did not dare search for a firm place to plant his feet. He ran instead. He ran like a mad-man through the breaking morning until he stood still next to the open grave.  His rapid breath hung white and empty like the dead-man's wrappings folded mockingly inside. His closed his eyes, rapid heartbeat echoing in the mouth of the tomb in tandem with the shuffle of Peter's feet inside.
On the walk back, Peter spoke fast and loud, somewhere between incredulous and jubilant. John walked quietly and fisted his hands in the sides of his clothing to slow the fall.
And then He came in the evening, and He smiled, and all the falling stopped.
He came again and met them on the beach. He had died, and he had walked through walls and now he made them breakfast like a carpenter for his friends. He looked up at them, standing awkwardly and quietly at a distance, and his eyes laughed. He drew them in close with his smile and his words and he told them to eat with him.
For a moment everything was as it had been, except the marks on the hands that passed John the bread.
“Does it hurt?” John asked, almost gasping, as he finally caught his breath from the long fall.
The carpenter shifted in the sand to lean against him, shoulder to shoulder with his head tipped back;
like death didn't matter anymore and he would be there beside John forever.
Hope spread through the broken edges. Gulls wheeled above their heads and the waves broke on the shore.

The Ascension
A little while later John stood on another hillside beside his mother and watched Jesus rise through the clouds. His words stayed, echoing in all the hopeful places where the cracks used to be, and John waited.
He waited until there was a sound of rushing wind, and all that warmth, all of the campfires and the bright lights and the dusty sandals cluttered together and that happy lean settled somewhere deep in his heart. It spread through his bones like fire, bursting across his face and his eyes and his hands and his feet. It poured out of his mouth and filled his mind with songs that sounded like waves breaking on the beach and children who were not dead anymore laughing; all the songs Jesus had sung humming through his veins until his heart beat to their rhythm.

The Revelation
The years passed, and much, much later John was an old man alone on a beach and waiting for death. In his heart, cracked hands passed him bread and fish as the gulls wheeled above their heads. The bright lights and resounding voices came, but in the midst of it all there was a gentle lean.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The One He Loved (Holy Week series, part 2/5)

The dark day.

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”
― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

On the night they came to take him away, he did not look like a carpenter. He should have—he didn’t shine, and his feet were dusty on the ground, but his face was too-still, like calmed water, in the flickering torchlight. They waited as Judas kissed him for the change, for the sky to light up again, or the earth to shake.
Instead he went with them. John watched from a distance, all the abuses, and him in the midst of it  
Wine in his glass, still and deep.
“It was water,” they whisper.
At last, they marched him up a hill. When they laid him down, finally, John wanted the miraculous-- one last lit-up sky to snatch him away from the hammer fall. But the sky stayed dim. John closed his eyes when they lifted him up against it.
At the end, John watched life drain away like a kiss on the cheek. All the cracks the dead man on the tree had drawn through his life gaped open like wounds. John felt himself falling through them. His mother wept and John tried to hold her, but he was falling so quickly. The sky darkened and the ground shook, but,
“Too late,” John whispered over the weeping rocks and crashing sky.
He turned away, arm wrapped around the woman who was crying too. His eyes caught those of a soldier, blood flecks drying on his cheek.
“….the Son of God,” John saw him say.
“Too late,” John whispered as he turned away.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The One He Loved (Holy Week series, Part 1/5)

The three years.

When his stark humanity slipped and the eternity leaked through, John was afraid.

The brilliant, warm man who laughed and ate and sang with him, he felt like he could stay. John wanted that, for the days of them all together to stretch on and on. But in those pauses, those cracks in the days that let the brightness through, their moments suddenly felt frail -- short and small and always slipping away. At any moment that something else beneath the surface would snatch him away, and leave John in the old world, before come with me and I will make you....

So secretly he treasured the ordinary moments more than the miraculous ones. He lost himself in the laughter and the shared meals and the raised voices and dirty feet, and he pretended that it would last. But then he would look up, and see those still, ancient eyes in the carpenter's sun-worn face, and he would feel again the moments ticking by.

Someday He would go back, and John did not know what he would do then.

(To be continued tomorrow in 'The dark day' )