By Bren Dubay
There were no more tears. That Saturday. Our bodies were empty. Empty of tears, of food. If we drank even water that day, there was no memory of it. Empty of hope. There were no words. Silence. Though many of us were together in the same room, we were alone. He was dead.
Here at Koinonia we are invited to give ourselves to each specific day of Holy Week. We are encouraged to use our imaginations to be there in Jerusalem. To smell the smells, to hear the sounds, to see each moment. To taste. On Thursday … what does the bread taste like? And the wine? How does it taste? Is it tart? When they entered the city the Sunday before, what did they sing? How did the singing sound? What color was the colt? Can you hear crickets in the garden? The sound of crickets and the murmur of someone praying? Was the prayer a murmur? Be Judas. Be Judas kissing him on the cheek. Can you smell his sweat? Can you taste it? What look is in his eyes? Go in your mind to Friday. Can you make yourself go there?
On Holy Saturday, we sit vigil in the Koinonia chapel. A candle is lit at 6:00 a.m. It will burn until 6:00 p.m. We’ve signed up for a slot. At least one person is in the chapel during those twelve hours. Even if there are more, we are alone. We sit. We pray. We wait. How was it for them, those 2,000 years ago? How did it feel for him to be gone? To have watched him die. Be there if only in your imagination.
That next morning … I don’t remember slipping away. To go to the tomb. I do remember tripping and falling. Maybe it was no food or drink. Or it was the grief driving me to the ground. Both my knees were bloody and the heel of my hands badly scraped. I picked a few small pieces of rock from them. If it stung, I didn’t know. Blindly, I staggered on. I needed to be close to him. He was gone. He was dead. But I needed to be close to him … The tomb was empty. Then a gardener said my name.
After Saturday’s vigil, we gather before sunrise outside the chapel. It is Sunday. It’s quiet. Our chairs face East. In front of us is one of our pecan orchards, the grape vineyard just beyond it. There is a row of trees behind the grapes. We watch. As the dawn approaches, birds begin to sing and we can see the breeze make the leaves dance. We wait. We begin to anticipate. It gets lighter and lighter. Then the sun peeks over the horizon. We wait a bit more. The sun continues to rise. When it is fully visible, someone among us shouts, “The Lord is risen.” We respond, “He is risen indeed.” And then we all exclaim, “Alleluia!” The bell rings. The bell is rung repeatedly to underscore the good news. We sing and then we hear the account of that Sunday morning as it is read from Luke 24:1-50 in the Cotton Patch Version.
No doubt, Easter is to be a momentous occasion for Christians — it is our greatest feast day. But it seems its beauty is heightened all the more by living that week — from Palm Sunday to Easter Morning. I wish everyone of you could experience this week with us. That not being practical, perhaps give some thought to experiencing it with us from afar? Together let’s give ourselves to the full range of emotions of that week. We believe in an incarnated Christ. He experienced the sights, the sounds, the smells, the tastes, the textures, and the emotions. Let’s do so, too. The joy of Sunday morning is made all the more real when we do. He is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.