The world’s aged sunlight mottles my son’s tombstone in tarnished, dusty gold. I sit beside the cavern of rock where he lies. I stroke the cold, rough surface. I finger the damp, dead grass. I breathe. I grieve.
About me, the olive trees creak, murmur and sigh like grandmothers who would pull me close, stroke my face with sun-darkened hands, and whisper, “Death is sorrow, but bear the sorrow for now. The Lord is the Resurrection and the life.”
My soul aches like a body broken with the acutest torture—yet I know why the trees tell me this, and my battered spirit rejoices. Even these trees know the truth of life! They know because they were fashioned by the hands of their Creator; fashioned by the gentle hands of my carpenter son, who is the Resurrection and the life. Throughout the past three days, I have whispered his words to myself. They indeed hold the hope and promise of a lifetime.
The word ‘resurrection’ is mystery, yet a mystery overflowing with true meaning, even as I sit beside the grave of my son. The thought of God penetrates the deepest darkness of human misery and doubt. My Son and his Father are One. Hear, O Israel . . .
Often I contemplated the word ‘resurrection,’ and believed it with all my soul’s faith, with all my heart’s hope; but only now do I begin to behold more fully its truth, as I now have beheld the pain, the brutality, the shame in the death of my son.
I have sat here upon the dry grass outside his tomb for many hours. Now, I am rooted to the earth. I cannot move, nor can I speak. I have cried a lifetime of tears throughout the past three days. Now comes a hush over the earth, and the whole world seems sealed by this silence—but I know the most indomitable and hopeless of chains can be broken by the hands of the Lord.
Before I fully beheld the power of death, before scourges and nails, mockery and a spear injected death into my only son, I would see the grief of other beings at the passing of their loved ones. I would pray, I would ponder. Their witness to the Lord was grace. For they were gathered in faithful hope, praying to our Father, hoping in life after death where they would be united by the mercy of the God of Israel.
In the deepest womb of my heart, I knew I would one day sit at the graveside of my beloved son. For when the angel spoke to me of my son, the Holy Spirit conceived within me the Messiah; when the prophets spoke to me and to all the Chosen People of the Messiah, they foretold the Suffering Servant. The Foretold and the Conceived are one and the same. The Messiah would suffer. I saw this within the innocence of my son’s eyes from the night he was born, blinked, and looked up at me as the God-Man.
“I am the resurrection and the life.”
Indeed, my son revealed this truth to me continuously by his actions, by his love. The final morning he stood with me in our poor home in Nazareth held no difference. The morning he pulled me into his strength-hewed arms which throbbed my soul with pride and awe; the morning he tucked my head beneath his chin like I’d done so often for him, before he grew taller than I and read from the Scriptures in the synagogue; the morning I heard his warm voice thrum like a tender drum’s beat, murmuring to me, “Woman, behold your son” as he would do, years later, from his cross. He was gentle and solemn and calm, knowing his destiny. My son was, indeed, the perfect Man. How frequently and deeply did my heart break by how beautiful he was: masculine, brave, kind and humorous. His eyes contained a quiet universe of thought and compassion. And he would live a life of sacrifice—for this he was born.
I could not, and would not, have him both ways. I would not have him courageous, yet prevent him from being willing to die. I would not have him strong and tall, yet prevent him from using his strength to save others. I would not have his strength-hewed arms outstretched to help the weak, yet prevent them from being outstretched on the cross. It was one choice alone; a choice of pain and love, love and pain. He loved me, but he was born to leave me. So I let him go.
And now he is dead.
Weariness shudders through my heart—already it is worn, so weary of these barren, arid, silent days without him. It wonders how it is the sun still burns. How is it there are birds singing? How is it there are kin laughing and congregating together in joyful Passover reunions, when so good, so loving a young Man, so good, so loving a God, lies dead and decaying in the ground—dead, because he died for the salvation of the earth?
The whole world should arrest and mourn.
But it does not.
I have arrested. I mourn. I remain rooted to the earth; my heart is his grave. For graves can bleed, just like bodies, and oh, how a mother’s heart can bleed.
The olive trees sigh and stroke me with their breath. “Death is sorrow, but bear the sorrow for now.”
These three days are not meaningless. The bleeding of my heart’s blood is not void, for his bleeding neither was void. I know what he spoke is truth.
I bow to the earth.
My son lies dead. I would have died with him. But it was not my destiny to die; rather, to live these three days without him. To offer as a libation to the Lord these days of pain. I offer my agony without reservation, that all may come to believe in my son and in his words. I present my grief to the God of Israel, that all those bound by grief and despair, that those who wish to die, will come to have faith through his grace.
“I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord.”
For he will rise tomorrow. He will live again, and give life to all.
By Mary Faustina