The Harrowing of Hell

We ask liturgical questions, why must the dead pretend they are anything else, here in the depths of the world where we have waited so long? We resemble our former selves, only shadows now, constructing chalk outlines of the world which has gone on without us

When he breaks through we watch in awe, chalk outlined arms raised, like children who must be helped into

The clothing of this beautiful

Hereafter

A.D.

Matthew 28:5-7 NIV

[5] The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. [6] He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. [7] Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

Tree King

The before and the not-yet

Become the metaphysical geography of a mid-afternoon discourse-

What is the last holiday of a person’s life?

Passover?  Kwanzaa?  Thanksgiving?  Cinco de Mayo?  Christmas?

Christmas-I know you love Christmas!

As do the trees

Poised as they are, impatient,

On the far tether of human reckoning

Waiting for the signal

To clap 

Clap before their King

Swaddling Clothes

I have a friend who fights.  She has brightly colored hand wraps that she uses to protect her hands beneath her boxing gloves.

She bandages each hand so that the knuckle is protected, the wrist and all the space in between.

When I have watched her wrap and unwrap her hands it has reminded me of Jesus.

I think of him as a baby. In the primitive conditions of his arrival, the Bible records his swaddling–wrapped in swaddling clothes, laid in a manger.  

Descriptions of ancient infant swaddling talk about cleaning the newborn with oil and salt, then wrapping the child in strips of torn cloth.

Lazarus was swaddled when he emerged from his tomb.

The ancients swaddled their newborns and their dead, wrapping both in the same strips of cloth, washing each for the journey ahead.

The story of Jesus’ anointing at Bethany bears striking resemblance to his washing as a newborn and is a stated preparation for the soon-to-be swaddling of his dead body.

Three days is a long time to wait for a resurrection, four days is even longer.  But for many of us 20, 30, or 40 years is how long we have waited for our dead to rise to life.

And if eternity is the span of human existence, then it is also the length of time we must measure each human soul, inside or outside our dark and solitary tombs.

To believe in the resurrection of the dead is to believe in the extreme triumph of Life over death, heaven over hell, good over bad.

To stand at the mouth of the tomb and know that someday each of us will be called to walk out of our tombs into Light.