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22 December 2017

Resurrection of hope

Resurrection of hope

The most important example of transformation happened in the resurrection. Joint winner of the under 18's short story competition Hannah Mead, gives us her inspiring adaptation of Mary discovering the tomb and realising the enormity of Jesus rising from the dead. Stirring food for thought for the year ahead.

Fog hung over the city like the sorrow that hung over Leah's heart. As she walked through the city gate, she felt the mist run clammy fingers down her neck. She shivered, and pulled her headscarf tighter.

It felt odd to be out of the house. For the past two days she had been shut up in it with all her relatives and friends, trying to celebrate Passover, but failing miserably. They'd gone through the motions of the ceremony, but there was none of the joy that normally accompanied such celebrations. How can there be joy, when the Rabbi is dead? At the thought, Leah felt her throat constrict, and she felt the weight of her hopelessness. 

How could it have all gone so wrong? The questions swirled through her mind. Why had he let them kill him? But there were no answers, as she'd found out in the past days. The Rabbi was dead. There was no hope.

Leah's sandals made slapping noises as she increased her pace, climbing up the rocky path. Dawn was approaching, but the sky was overcast and the fog hung over the dripping olive trees that lined the path. She rounded a corner and the path sloped downward into a garden. Suddenly, through the remnants of the fog, she saw the figures of several women, all dressed in black. Running to catch up with them, she panted out a greeting.

"Child! What are you doing here?" The tallest women, whom Leah knew to be Mary Magdalene, asked her. 

"May I come with you?" Leah asked. "Please?" Mary looked at her companions in silent question. Leah knew them all. Susanna, Mary, and Salome were all family friends, and they formed the main group of women that had followed the Rabbi. "Yes, come, Leah." Salome replied. "I know that you followed and loved the Rabbi too." Her voice broke, and she went quiet. Leah joined the group, and they all moved through the garden.

Susanna gulped down a sob, and asked "How shall we open the tomb?" No one answered. Leah realized that they didn't know how they would remove the giant stone that blocked the entry to the tomb. Yet they were all carrying jars of burial spices in hopes that somehow they might enter.

"It's over here." Mary Magdalene gestured, and everyone followed her. But when they rounded the corner, they all stopped abruptly. A gasp of shock escaped Leah's lips.

"The stone!" They started forward towards the deserted tomb. The stone was rolled away from the entrance, and a broken seal lay like a scarlet thread at its base. Here and there a scattered spear lay haphazardly, as if its owner had thrown it in great haste.

But none of this even registered in Leah's mind, compared to the most stunning thing of all. A blinding light was pouring out from the tomb. The women looked at each other in confusion. Mary Magdalene finally stepped forward, and stooped down to enter the tomb. The others followed behind her. 

What they saw struck them all with fear and amazement. Mary had dropped to her knees in front of a blinding apparition, from which all the light was emanating. As her eyes adjusted, Leah could see it was a man, but no ordinary man! He was dressed in dazzling white, and his face reminded Leah of a lightning bolt in a storm. Then he spoke. 

"Do not be afraid." He said gently. "I know you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. But why do you seek the living among the dead? Remember how he told you that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinners, be crucified, and on the third day, rise?" At these words, Leah felt a jolt of emotion course through her. Of course she remembered! How could she have forgotten?

The man continued. "See the place where they laid him?" He gestured at the stone platform, with the burial clothes lying on top. "He has risen, he isn't here." A flood of hope filled Leah's heart. Could it be true? "Now go, tell the disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him." The man smiled, and then both he and the light vanished. The tomb was empty, the words of hope echoing in the darkness.

Stunned, the women filed out of the tomb, and then stood silently around the entrance. As if on cue, the sun burst through the fog, shedding the warmth of its rays on the garden. A bird made a hesitant chirp, and soon a whole chorus of birds were singing their hearts out. Can it be true? Is he risen? The questions raced around Leah's head. Her heart felt like it would burst with the warmth of hope. She looked around at the women, and saw in their eyes that same dawning hope. Finally, Susanna broke the silence. 

"Can it be true?" she breathed. 

"I don't know." Mary Magdalene haltingly replied. "But, if it is…" Her words trailed off. Leah felt a smile slowly begin to spread across her face.

"No." Salome said. "It cannot be 'if'. It simply must be true." The hope was infectious, and Leah could feel it slowly rising into a torrent of joy.

"Well then..." Leah spoke up for the first time since leaving the tomb. "What are we waiting for? Let's go tell everyone!" Laughter bubbled through her lips, and she gave a small skip of glee. "Come on!"

The women broke out of their stupor, and began to run, dropping their jars of burial spices as they went. Leah watched as they flew through the garden, their robes billowing out behind them. Then she too began to run, following them as fast as she could, her feet pounding over the rocky path and her heart singing with joy. Morning had dawned, the Son was risen, and hope was alive again.

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