I had been dead for eons.
I was not the first to die– the first to sin, but not to die. I had to see my second son murdered by my firstborn, before it was my time. And then I went down into the ground, and then my children all joined me, and then my children’s children, and so on for all the generations to come.
All of my children were with me, the just and the unjust together in Sheol. Sarah was there, and Hagar whom Sarah despised. Rebekah, Rachel and Leah were there. Tamar was there– both of them, the Tamar who bore a child by Judah and the Tamar who was raped by her brother and remained desolate until the end of her days. Dinah, who was also raped and whose father treated her like a harlot. Jochebed who saved her baby by setting him afloat in the Nile, and Miriam who watched the sea swallow the Egyptians. Rahab the prostitute and Deobrah the judge, and Ruth who became the grandmother of a king. Ahinoam, Abigail, Maachah, Haggith, Abital, Elgah, Bathsheba. The widow of Zarepath who kept the prophet alive. Hadessah, known as Esther, who saved her whole nation when they were in exile.
And millions upon millions of others. Millions upon millions of queens and kings, harlots and judges, victims and victors, mothers and fathers, the whole of the world. All were were with me, in the dryness and the dark of Sheol.
And it was night.
Oh yes, it was a holy night– a long one, ages beyond number of unbroken darkness, but holy.
The dead don’t really sleep, after all. We seem to sleep, but sleep is a solace for the living. We keep vigil. And as we keep vigil, we pray.
I welcomed each of them as they came in. I listened to the stories, the stories of their lives– how they were born, how they lived, how it all went wrong, how they fell, how they came to the abode of the dead. And then I told them my story. I told them about the time when my husband and I were one, when there was no division or struggle yet in all the world. I told them about the garden that was watered by a river divided into four branches, where we had everything that was good. I told them about the Lord who used to walk there in the cool of the day, before the ground was cursed. And no one despised me for my hand in that. Every one of them had sinned as well, after all, and they knew it. It isn’t something that death allows you to forget. Paradise was lost to all of us, and that was justice.And it was night.
And then, into the Holy Night, came one like a Son of Man.
He was a Son of Man, a child of mine, a man born of a woman, of few days, full of suffering, flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone.
I went to welcome Him, as I welcomed all of my daughters and sons.
I saw that He recognized me.
He, my descendant, thousands of years after my death, was Someone who existed before me.
And then I recognized Him. I saw that He was Adam– not my Adam, who was here with me, but a new Adam. And I saw that somehow, still being a Man, a human Adam, He was also Someone else. He was the Lord who walked in Eden in the cool of the day. I had not seen Him since the day we hid ourselves, the day the ground was cursed, the day my Adam lorded it over me and my motherhood became an agony. And here he was, my Son.
And this time, I did not hide.
And then I saw the door open. I’d never noticed a door, not in all these years, but there it was in front of me, open. And there was the angel, sheathing his sword. And there was Paradise, and it was morning, and the brilliance was dawning from the face of my Descendant who existed before me, all through the darkness, dissolving the walls of our prison. And it was no longer a holy night, but a holy day.
And then I wasn’t dead anymore.
(image via Pixabay)