Friday, April 22, 2011


Transformed in the tomb
Searching for treasure: An Easter morning tradition
Easter brunch at Nana’s was a big event in the life of our children and their cousins. It was the site of a traditional egg hunt. After everyone had a basket full of chocolates, gleaned from numerous outdoor locations, Grandpa would gather the children and read a little poem. The poem held the clue to the location of the treasure, a gold mesh bag of chocolate nuggets.

I remember one Easter in particular. Our daughter, about 4 years old, stood very quietly, listening attentively. Grandpa finished reading the poem and the boys dashed off. Our daughter remained still until she had solved the puzzle.

As she was on her way to retrieve the treasure, one of her older cousins, observing her movements, outran her, triumphantly grasped the treasure and exclaimed, “I found it!’ He ran off, the cousins (all boys) in pursuit, to show us. Our daughter remained at the spot, crying.

Even though the treasure would eventually be shared out, the hunt created tension. Who would be smart enough, fast enough and wily enough to get to the treasure first?

Our daughter held in tension the elements required to successfully discover the treasure’s location. She was able to sit with the mystery of the puzzle to unravel its meaning, whereas enthusiasm powered the boys as they ran all about.

The first Easter morning: John 20: 1-18
Tension characterizes the dawn of the first Easter morning.

In John’s Gospel, Mary of Magdala goes to the tomb of the crucified Jesus and finds it empty. Afraid that someone has stolen the body, she runs to find Peter. 

Together with Mary, Peter and another disciple run back to the tomb.

 Peter and John Running to the Tomb (1898)
Eugene Burnand
Musee d'Orsay, Paris

The two male disciples enter the empty tomb, notice the discarded burial cloths and run off, leaving Mary alone.

The male disciples, like little boys searching for treasure, are in a hurry. They are unable to be still in the presence of the mystery confronting them. Peter discovers the treasure but does not fully grasp its meaning before running off to share the news with the others.

Mary Magdalene (1535-1540)
Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo
 National Gallery
Mary, however, holds her grief, fears, confusion and hope in tension. She remains weeping at the tomb. She is prepared to wait, to inquire and to discover. And so, Mary is the first to enter deeply into the mystery and presence of the risen Jesus.

Weeping at the tomb: a universal experience
There are times when life leaves us weeping at the tomb. Disappointment, humiliation, illness, suffering and loss can take us into the darkness of the tomb. Anger, shame, grief and sorrow are the burial cloths that obscure our vision. Slowly, we emerge from the pain of our personal crucifixions to re-experience the joy of living.

In the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus, we see the pattern of human experience, the cycle of mini deaths and resurrections that transform us.

The resurrection is not only a future hope we hold in our hearts. We experience resurrection now. Out of our bleakest experiences we emerge with a treasure, nuggets of wisdom forged in the darkness to illuminate our rising.

May your Easter be blessed with the joy of transformation. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

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