Paul Greenberg

First came the woman in mourning, eager to do the right thing even before first light. Could she have slept at all? Did she toss and turn through the night, after the empty sabbath that had made a mockery of all she once believed? For it was all over now, as she must have known even as she set out weeping. All hope was lost, all belief shattered. Death had won once more.

In place of faith, all she could do was go through the motions, forget and go on. Isn't that what they always tell mourners? Such is the world, and so are we. It is vain illusion to believe that life is anything more than that. Death conquers all. Best not to think about it. Get it over with. So she hurried to the tomb.

What was this? Someone had rolled away the stone that had decently covered the burial place. It was the final blow. Was this, too, to be heaped upon Him - the final disgrace. All was lost beyond lost. To whom could she turn - the helpless men?

The disciples confirmed what she already sensed. Yes, the tomb was empty, all was empty. There was nothing to be done here but give up. What could she have expected of them - miracles? The men went home.

But the woman tarried. Overcome, she wept and would not be comforted. She had to see the emptiness for herself, and did. There was no denying it any longer.

Within the tomb stood two figures. In white. They spoke. "Woman, why weepest thou?"

Did she have to explain? Didn't they know?

"Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him." She must have been mad, hearing voices, seeing hallucinations, explaining herself to these phantoms. Was she dreaming, as perhaps she had dreamed it all?

The woman would not be consoled, not by men or angels. She had seen the emptiness for herself. Blinded by her sorrow, she could not see that the angels' question was an answer: "Why seek ye the living among the dead?" Enough. She hurried away. Down the path, away from this emptiness to the greater emptiness that is the world.

"Woman why weepest thou?" Again, the same question. This time from a man in the garden. He must be the gardener. Maybe he could help. All she wanted now was to put an end to the whole, strange story, the whole mad interlude. All she sought now was, as they say, closure. "Sir," she told him, "if thou hast borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away."

What must He have thought of her? What could He say? As always, He knew just what to say. He called her by her true name. "Mary," said the gardener of gardeners, the cultivator of souls, He who is always reaching out to us though we see Him not, hear Him not. He is there even when we don't recognize Him.

At that moment, at the sound of her name, Mary understood. The light must have blazed. The veil of the world was lifted.Rabboni! she proclaimed. My master! He knew her, knew everything she had been and would be. He had risen. She hurried to tell the men. She who had gone out weeping had returned bearing sheaves. It as a new heaven and a new earth. It was Easter.


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.