She emptied the big earthenware pitcher into a wooden basin and splashed the cool water on her face. Her deep brown eyes were swollen and bloodshot. She tied back her long shiny-black tresses with a piece of cloth and bundled them into a veil. Her face was pale and gaunt after her 50-hour fast. Hastily she threw a cloak about her shoulders, carefully picked up the Alabaster jar, took the wooden bar from the inside of the door and stepped into the half-night. The chill of the fetal day stung her throat as she turned swiftly and sped along the silent streets. Yellow-white ribbons of un-darkness infiltrated feebly from the East erasing the fainter stars.
She hadn’t expected it would end like this. She didn’t know what she had expected – except that this had never occurred to her. It was still difficult to believe it had really happened. But, like everything else about him, she accepted it completely with the total love only a woman is capable of offering a man. Life had never been the same since she met him: the searching gentleness of his eyes and the soothing healing touch of his hands had melted the bitterness within her, had banished the despair and depression that until then had frequently enveloped her like a thick, choking, claustrophobic fog. It had given way to a deep tranquil peace.
“My God” she thought “Is all the blackness and nauseating despondency to return now that he is gone? Gone. Gone! He is gone. Is there nothing for me now except to remain faithful to a memory?” She skirted the hill and her sandals kicked up fluffy cloudlets of red dust. As she opened the gate of the garden, she suddenly remembered that there would be a very large stone at the mouth of the burial chamber. Frustrated, she ran the last few yards and stopped abruptly looking at the gaping mouth of the tomb. Terror wrapped itself about her heart. “Even in death is he to find no peace from the relentless pursuit of his enemies?” she thought. Hysterically she raced back to the city and told Peter and John what had happened. In utter bewilderment they ran to the graveyard to see for themselves, while she followed breathlessly far behind. Peter and John saw and began to dare to believe. They headed back for the still-slumbering city, rushing past her without a word.
Again, she was left alone with an empty grave. Her pent-up grief exploded, and she fell to her knees, body shaking convulsively, disheveled hair spilling about her face and tears trickling ticklingly through her fingers. “My God, let all this be just a bad dream. Let me wake and find it is only a phantom of the night!” She raised her head and looked into the tomb again – two young men were seated there. They asked her “Woman, why are you weeping?” “They have taken my lord away” she sobbingly replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
As she said this, she was conscious of a movement behind her and looking around she saw another man standing there. He asked her the same question. Tears shimmeringly refracted her vision, stray locks of hair stuck to her wet face and the new-born sun was silhouetting his form – so she did not recognize him. Thinking him to be the keeper of the graveyard she bowed and clasped his feet and pleaded, “Sir if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and remove him.” Jesus smiled and called: Mary!” It was enough!! The intonation, accent, sensitivity and love all intertwined in that one word could only be his. She struggled to her feet and fired herself at him, smothering him in an embrace. He stroked her hair and gently brushed the tears from her face with his fingertips, smiling all the while. Then he said, “Mary, do not cling to me, go and tell my brothers and sisters that I am alive.” “No, Jesus, let me stay with you. I don’t ever want you to go away again” she protested. He smiled again and said, “I also want to remain with you – always. And I will, but how you do not yet understand. Do you believe me?” “Yes, oh yes I believe – and I love. And my love gives me understanding. I know that you will keep this promise also.” He kissed her gently on the forehead and said, “Go, then and tell them what you have seen.”
She pressed his fingers to her lips and then left him – lightly dancing her way back to the city. Early groups of workers were beginning the week sluggishly. A wizened old man in a white flowing beard stumbled out of a doorway as she was about to pass. “Shalom” she smiled at him. “Shalom, shalom, daughter of Sion” he replied, wondering how swollen blood-shot eyes could laugh as hers did. “Did you have a pleasant Sabbath yesterday?” he asked. Her bottom lip quivered involuntarily. “No, ancient one, not yesterday – today is my Sabbath!”
He looked quizzically after her departing figure. “Strange” he thought. “Strange! Strange eyes, strange face, strange words, very strange words!”