the lonely garden

[this is the second of a three-part imaginative reflection on the first holy week.]

i snuck out of my room late that night, on the night of the passover. i waited until everyone in our home had fallen asleep–i could hear their slow, steady breathing–and then i made my escape.

i left my window quietly, dropped to the ground, and then ran. the cool night air blew on my face as i ran to the garden where my friends had told me the Man on the donkey had been buried. in a tomb of stone. i didn’t know where it was, exactly, but i knew the general direction. and so i ran, guided by the moonlight on this quiet night. more quiet than i had ever known. with only my breathing and the “pat, pat” of the soles of my feet slapping the cool, hard ground breaking the silence.

there were no stars that night. just a dark sky, relieved only by the pale-yellow disc of a moon. it was as if all the stars had gone to bed, just like everyone else.

what happened?

i was in the market earlier that day with my mother. she was buying supplies for the passover celebration when i heard the shouting. the same voices that only a few days earlier were praising this Man were now shouting, “crucify Him! crucify Him!”

and they did, as those who loved Him became His enemies.

i hadn’t watched. i hadn’t seen the Man after it happened. i was not allowed. but i wanted to know what happened. i wanted to know.

standing guard

my heart was racing from all the running as moonlight poured over the garden, where i now stood. the moonlight revealed the trampled flowers, crumbled underfoot by the roman guards who now stood on either side of the tomb.

“why stand guard over the tomb of a dead man?” i wondered.

the flowers showed no hint of life as the moonlight shone on them. if there was ever any life in them before, there was none now. now there was only death.

i wondered, as i stared at the tomb, what the Man inside felt. i wondered if He was angry. i wondered if He was disappointed. i wondered if He was cold. most of all, i wondered if He was lonely.

i’ve never understood death.

children’s stories

growing up, my grandfather used to tell me stories of a coming King. of the One Who would restore peace to the land, Who would mean the fulfillment of all our greatest hopes, Who would, somehow, set all things right.

after seeing this Man enter our village, and after seeing the response of the adults in our village, i asked my grandfather if he thought this Man might be the One Who was to come. if He might be the King he had told me stories about growing up, and Whom he had heard stories of from his own grandparents, when he was just a young boy.

he gave me a look of wonder, like my question had taken him by surprise. and then he spoke up.

“i hope so,” he told me, his eyes twinkling with the kind of excitement i hadn’t ever seen in a man of his age. like he was a young boy again.

“i hope so,” his words echoed in my ears as i stood there in the brush, eyeing this tomb and the guards standing on either side. and it was there that i remembered the looks on the faces of those kneeling as the Man on the donkey passed by. they were faces of hope.

something to tell me

but standing here now, that seemed like so long ago. for now, now there was only death. all around. and silence.

i found myself thinking back to that day. to the crowds. to the excitement. to the hope.

ever since i first saw this Man, i couldn’t help but feel like He had something to tell me. to show me. but now, now He was gone. and i didn’t know what that meant.

“where were the crowds?” i wondered. where were this man’s friends? and family? where were those who loved Him?

where was the excitement that had filled the air only days earlier? where was the hope?

“if there was any hope before, there is none now,” i thought to myself, kicking a small stone as i turned to leave. there was only death and silence. and i didn’t know what that meant.

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