as it began to dawn // Easter 2021

it was my friend mary ann who first pointed out that the women went as soon as they possibly could to attend the body of their friend, their savior, Jesus Christ. 

because He was slain on a friday afternoon, shortly before sundown, and laid in a borrowed tomb, jewish burial customs were delayed. immediately following His death, the sabbath began. though a lifelong latter-day saint, mary ann studied the jewish faith diligently and pointed out that the faithful marys observed the sabbath completely, and waited to complete the chore of burial arrangements until "the end of the sabbath, as it began to be dawn, [and] came to see the sepulchre." 

i can just picture the marys and their sisters, waking up in the dark, filled with the heavy pain, even dread, that washes over a person in those first hours and days following the death of a loved one. i imagine them quietly dressing, quickly packing up their sweet embalming spices, meeting up along the road as the sun rose, and sprinting to His tomb. i imagine their shock when the immovable stone door was not where they knew it should be, and the fear of seeing a stranger sitting inside where He should have been. i imagine the mix of shock, faith, and adrenaline at the angel's announcement, "He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead."

i imagine the immense frustration of those women who followed the angel's instructions to go and tell the others, after having waited through the horrific scene of His death, the darkness of that friday night, and the anguish of the first sabbath without Him, to finally arrive at the sepulchre, and speak with an angel, only to return to the men and be met with cynicism, dismissal, and doubt. i think i'd scream.

i imagine mary, His beloved mary, at a complete loss, not understanding this strange angel. wanting nothing more than to just see Him and say goodbye. weeping at losing Him again. i imagine her disbelief at seeing Him standing before her. i imagine her disbelief melting away into complete confidence at the sound of His voice and the light of His eyes as He called her by her name. i imagine, i hope, someday to feel that same confidence when i return home to Him.

"As we leave the tombs of quarantine, a return to normal would be a disaster unless we recognize that we are going back to a world desperately in need of healing. For me, the source of that healing is an empty tomb in Jerusalem. The work that Jesus left his followers to do includes showing compassion and forgiveness and contending for a just society. It involves the ever-present offer for all to begin again. The weight of this work fills me with a terrifying fear, especially in light of all those who have done great evil in his name. Who is worthy of such a task? Like the women, the scope of it leaves me too often with a stunned silence."

— Esau McCaulley , 04/02/2021