Common Sense, Confirmation, Easter Sunday, Emmaus, Jesus, Kenneth Grahame, Life beyond death, Mary, Mole and Rat, not knowing, seed in the soil, The Day of Resurrection, The Piper of the Dawn, The Wind in the Willows, worship
Mary in the Garden thinks he is the gardener. She has no expectation of meeting Jesus. He is dead. The idea that the person standing beside her is Jesus is beyond sense. In the same way the two men on the road to Emmaus have no expectation that the stranger could be Jesus. In both cases it is not a failure to recognise, but minds seeking to process that which is beyond processing ,and so all the mind can do is come up with the best possible alternative. For Mary it just must be a gardener and for the two travellers it must be a stranger who has somehow managed to avoid all the gossip in Jerusalem.
We may sing with great gusto “The Day of Resurrection” but in truth our minds cannot really imagine it. The imagery offered is all very anthropomorphic but none of it can really do justice to the reality of life beyond death – how can the seed imagine what life will be like when finally it bursts through the soil? Between seed and plant there may be absolute continuity but the one could not be more different from the other.
So on Easter Sunday what can make sense of that which is beyond sense?
A single frail flicking candle processed into the vast darkness of the cathedral. It changes the space, it draws the eye but only penetrates a little of the darkness. It is full of unrealised possibility.
A woman smiling after her confirmation and saying: I have waited 80 years for that. A sense of excitement and expectation, with the best still to come.
The organ in full thunder, accompanied with drums and brass and the ground shaking beneath my feet. The sheer physicality of the music in that moment transports me beyond myself, beyond words and opens me to a profound and deep sense of the Other.
My experience of Easter comes in glimpses, individual moments that both reveal and hide something that seems to lie just beyond my senses, even beyond my best imaging. There is an encounter with a mystery beyond mystery that draws me, fills me with expectation, and takes me beyond all my knowing.
Mole and Rat come closest to speaking for me in their encounter with the Piper of Dawn in The Wind in the Willows:
‘Rat!’ he found breath to whisper, shaking. ‘Are you afraid?’ ‘Afraid?’ murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love. ‘Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet – and yet – O, Mole, I am afraid!’ Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.
At Easter I find no need to make sense of it all. Rather my heart finds afresh “the fear of the Lord” – and it is wonderful. There is only one response possible; to kneel and worship.