Saturday, April 7, 2012

Water and Whispered Alleluias

a meditation for Easter Vigil.

Last summer my husband and I trekked to an out-of-the way place for the first time – a place I had heard about often but never been.

It’s a famous place, perhaps many of you have heard of it, some have even been there.

But it’s a little off the beaten path. We really had to think about how we were going to get there. The place is called "Mesa Verde."

It is tucked into the mountains of Southwestern Colorado, on the other side of the Rocky Mountains, in a beautiful stretch of land.

But it’s not the beautiful, high mountains that are the main attraction there.

The scenery is breathtaking, but the main attraction is something historical – it is a number of cliff dwellings that are almost hidden underneath mesas.


People lived in these places several hundreds of years ago, and yet there is much about them that is preserved almost exactly as it was in about 1200 AD – even down to a child’s handprint on one of the walls.

Standing right in one of the cliff dwellings, our guide pointed out that these houses are so well preserved because the climate is so dry

– there is not much water here – there is not much water to wear down the rocks and disturb the sand.

Of course, that’s probably why the homes were abandoned, finally – there is not much water here.

But the guide asked us to look around and see if we could see any sources of water.

We had to look carefully, but we did see – we saw at first the pockets of green sprouting out from between the rocks, and then we saw small trickles of water too – the water that these people used to live.

We had to keep our eyes peeled, though – and we needed to know the signs, what to look for, to see the signs of life.

Water. We’ve spent so much time during Lent looking for water marks, which is to say looking for signs of life.

We’ve seen how many of the great stories of the Bible have to do with water – the waters separating at creation, the waters above and the waters below, the waters that the Israelites walked through, the waters we are thirsty for.

There’s the water that Jesus was baptized in, and the water the disciples fished in, and the water that Jesus walked on.

There’s the water Jesus washed his disciples’ feet with, and there’s the water that Jesus was thirsty for, and there’s the water that came from his wounded side.


Sometimes it’s obvious and abundant and there is so much of it you can drown in it,

and sometimes you have to keep your eyes peeled, because there’s just a little trickle, but it’s there, for those who have eyes to see.

There’s water. There’s life.

When I think about our gospel reading this evening – Mark’s resurrection story – I can’t help thinking about the little trickle of water I saw in Mesa Verde.

Partly because – well – here we are, it’s Saturday night – it’s dark.

This is the night that it all happened, in the darkness. It's the night that love conquered hate, that hope conquered fear, that life conquered death.

Remember when the women got to the tomb, the stone was already rolled away?

This is the night, the night that Jesus rose,

and even though a huge, momentous thunderous thing happened, it happened in the quiet of the dead of the night, when no one was watching.

Just a little trickle.

In the same way, when we read this story of the resurrection from Mark, might be left wanting a little more.

When we leave tonight, Jesus will not yet have appeared to his disciples, or Mary. The angels promise that he will appear to them, he will meet them, but not yet.

In fact, not only does Jesus NOT appear, but the women are terrified and run away.

They don’t say anything to anyone.

You have to imagine that it must have been very early in the morning.

There was so far just a trickle of light on the horizon.

It’s a sort of eerie, mysterious time of morning.

But there is this: the huge stone has been rolled away, somehow, and he’s not here.

And the angel says it, "He has been raised."

So far it is not the blazing light that will hurt our eyes, it’s not the water that will wash over us, it’s just this: "He has been raised."

And the women can’t say it.

The words stick in their throat.

They’re so thirsty, so thirsty, but they can’t say it.

But we can.

Tonight it’s still dark, which is the case so often for us, isn’t it? It’s still dark.

But he has been raised.

And tonight we can whisper.

Tomorrow we will shout it from the rooftops, but tonight, tonight we will whisper to one another: "Christ is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia.."

And we will see signs of life, some small – that it is true.

The stone has been rolled away. Someone has taken our hand.

We have seen buds on the trees.

We heard a whispered prayer.

(Whisper: Christ is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia!)


Hot Cup Lutheran said...

alleluia! may the vigil go exceedingly well and may your day tomorrow be doubly blessed!

give scout a treat on behalf of my boys! no chocolate bunnies or jelly beans though...

Di said...

Thanks be to God. Will remember to watch for green sprouts this week.

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

We can't understand lack of water until we are deprived and people who live with little water can't understand the abundance we have in Minnesota. And then there is the lack and abundance in the metaphoric water....

Mesa Verdi was a "word" I heard as a child and it always stuck with me. We did get to go there, in about 1997. Memorable.