Creative Nonfiction, Hope, Theology

When God isn’t there

“They have taken my Lord away, and I do not know where they have laid him.” –John 20:13

I was playing with my little brothers in the kitchen one night when suddenly, the house lost power. It was very, very dark.

The darkness shocked us into silence for a moment. My mind fumbled to shift from using sight to using other senses to respond, figure out what to do next.

I felt a small hand reach up and timidly grab mine. I smiled into the dark, and squeezed the small hand.

***

Sometimes we reach up to hold a hand, and it has vanished. It was there, and suddenly it’s not.

We cry out. Where are you, God?

Nothing. No reassurance. Only absence.

“They have taken my Lord away, and I do not know where they have laid him.”

Can you hear the desperation in these words? Mary does not have even the luxury of the dead body of her Lord to mourn over, to honor, to care for.

He is simply gone. There is nothing left of him.

Where are you, Lord? she wonders.

Tears flood her vision. They blind her to the presence behind her. A presence that is far more than the corpse she was looking for.

She cannot see him, but he is with her in the garden.

A garden not unlike the one where he once called out, “Where are you?” to a man and a woman who were hiding from him, ashamed of their nakedness, of their willing forfeiture of the perfection they once knew.

A garden not unlike the one where, just a few days before, he had called out in agony, seeking his Father’s presence.

Mary has to face the horror of loss. But this horror does not last.The Risen Christ

The Lord stops Mary’s weeping with one word: her name. “Mary.”

Now she knows him. Her Lord has been restored to her. And she has found not only him, but herself again, because her life was united with his.

The Gardener is making all things new. Hidden just under the dark soil, green shoots are emerging.

We may not be able to see them. We may cry out, looking for something to give us a reason to hope. We may be waiting, longing to hear his voice say our name.

We may not recognize him. But he is with us.

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