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In the garden

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

John 20: 11, 14-17
Mary stood outside the tomb crying. She turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

"Woman," he said, "why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?"

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him."

Jesus said to her, "Mary."

She turned toward him and cried out, "Rabboni!"

Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father."

Mary couldn't believe her ears, she couldn't believe her eyes. She fell on Jesus with joy unbounded. Her disappointment and fear fell away.

What a moment of revelation. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, in a well-tended garden full of flowers and fruit, there was Jesus. No crown of thorns, no dripping blood on his face and chest, no heaving for breath. Jesus was calm, warm and whole.

Mary will carry this moment with her the rest of her life. Jesus doesn't stay long; even now he must "return to the Father." The disciples struggle to believe anything she says. Over and over in the years to come she will have to ask, "What is more real, my memory of Jesus or my need for him to be right here, right now by my side?"

Her memory will give her life. Her memory feeds her imagination which allows her to know the working of the Holy Spirit ever more completely. She and Jesus are together forever. He tends her like a rose, and she blossoms under his care. He blows on her brow and the Holy Spirit fills her up.

"Do not let your heart be troubled," Jesus whispers to her. "I open once more the gates to the Garden of Eden. I have made the garden for you, and now you can enter it again. Come and go with me to that land."

Mary knows more certain joy in this moment than in all her life before or since. This is the pearl of great price that she must not sell or lose. Carrying this pearl she can walk straight ahead, into that old garden where the serpent is finally defeated, toward the Lord, walking by himself in the cool of the evening.

Lord I come to the garden alone. And you walk with me and you talk with me, and you tell me I am your own.

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