TipToeing at the Tomb
Is this week Jesus-focused for you? a dear friend asked me yesterday.
She knows me well...that these days of Holy Week are a time of intention for me and that the last several years have been a blessed (and tumultuous) awakening to feminine wisdom so long silenced by the church. I startled at her question, thankful it gives me opportunity to tiptoe into this Easter morning, celebrating the empty tomb.
…because no, the days of this week, this Holy Week each year, are no longer Jesus focused, for me. The days are a temporal icon, of sorts, holding the container and shifting Jesus narratives within which the Spirit nudges, invites, goads, loves…Jesus is a part of it, but, we might say, just not the (sole/soul) point.
Don’t misunderstand... Much as my grandfather might say, I’m glad the church exists to make its proclamations. I am blessed to stand within its bounds, honoring its confessions, even if so many of them I can no longer give voice. (He would omit the phrases of the creed he could not say with belief, offering his gratitude that the church could say what he could not…). I cannot help my own sense that Jesus himself finds worship of him problematic, undesirable. Divine, yes, but divinity relinquished (Philipians 2). Maybe I’ve become delightfully Jewish in my sensibilities? It doesn't mean the tomb wasn't empty.
Ever since February 2, 2015, on a pilgrimage walk through the Via Dolorosa, I cannot in faith focus on the suffering of this one man while walking past the suffering of women and children, for centuries. For reasons unclear to me, then and now, I received a visceral revelation I cannot deny, which now shapes every other (Holy) Week for me.
Our group was squeezed into single file by a trash-truck up ahead, on a tight Old City (Jerusalem) road. A smashed plastic mannequin shape was on the ground, with pilgrims walking over her to get to the next stop.
I took this quick pic, then startled as a deep belly sob erupted within me. “She” touched something deep within me. Something raw. The group pushed us forward, carrying me to the next stop–the holding cell (tradition has it) where Jesus was kept the night of his arrest. The group looked to me to lead a song, honoring his suffering journey to the cross. I couldn’t choke out a tune. Spirit directed me (and my friend) to "where the women waited" at the Holy Sepulchre. And so we waited.
Today, the church’s glorification of this week as Jesus’s suffering journey to the cross? I can simply no longer enter into the worshipping of him for that journey.
Strangely, this does not preclude honoring the centrality of the cross, nor honoring the death of Jesus. Resurrection morning remains a time of professing he is risen (he is risen indeed). The archetypal patterning of life as birth, suffering, dying, rising into new life rings true to me. Even as a singularity, in this case, of actually happening.
But as a deeply embodied woman, I must also honor what I have received, even if I don’t know quite what it is yet. The empty tomb remains empty, and...new life beckons us all.
Blessed be, with an impish smile.