From old friend and fellow pilgrim MP working in a difficult place (and referring to another mk besides Tommy who fell and died this month):
The celebration of life was tempered by the death of boy on their team the week before who fell from a height. Life and death. Joy and pain. It seems to only make sense when viewed through the door of the open tomb. Life conquers death and we rejoice but the pain is real. "We know the whole creation groans…" we walk and live amongst the groaning and look for redemption. "But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us." (quotes from Rom. 8) Honestly, I don't feel like a conqueror and often what I 'see' around me overwhelms. So, unashamed, I cling to the feet of him who is 'risen indeed' and ask for eyes to see, wisdom to choose and strength to respond in the fullness of faith. Is this not what Easter is all about?
I like his image of looking through the door of the open tomb--here we are, in the place of death, but looking out at the Garden where the only fully alive human, the first-fruits of the renewal of the entire universe, walks. In the cave it is musty, dry, dim. All three of the babies I left struggling for life the first of April as we headed to Uganda, died. That was hard to hear. All were critically ill so it is not surprising, but there had been such an investment of work and hope and prayer. Why not at least one save? During our meetings in Uganda I prayed for Aidan to sleep, and no sooner were the words out of my mouth than he wailed, awake. So I'm not seeing amazing answers to prayers these days, at least as far as babies are concerned. Instead I feel the walls of the tomb, and can imagine the weight of the stone, blocking escape, trapping in the cause-and-effect reality of pre-Easter physics, where sick babies in Africa die, and tired irritable missionary kids cry, and friends' teens fall fatally, and we let each other down, and the bones collect. Then it is hard to believe that a very real force already blew open that cave, pushed the stone away, so that we are crouching, glimpsing, blinking out at the sunshine at dawn, scent of flowers drifting in, the song of birds echoing into the place of death.
Can we walk out of the tomb? I suppose that is what Christianity is all about, exiting the trap of a deathly dark hole and stepping into the garden to cling to the feet of the One who removed the stone. We still carry the reek of the grave, but by faith we walk into the grass and feel the sun. At least some days. Others, we hover by the door, still lingering in the decomposing dust, still squinting into the daylight, not fully free of the tomb until we pass through.
Praying the stone rolls, the view is opened up, the Gardener beckons.