Just the way he calls my name

24 Apr

I walked into the garden with a strange emptiness. I wanted closure – the trite rituals of the third day, the cloying smell of funeral flowers, the neatly tied-up threads. Then, I could pretend this was all… normal. All of it. Friday, today – the worlds inbetween.

I longed to be able to weep.

You see, it didn’t even hurt. I didn’t know what to feel. My whole life had revolved around this one thing, and now it wasn’t there.

I remember when it wasn’t there before. But that was different. Then, I didn’t know joy. I thought I did, I laughed and danced in the shadows and thought I found love, and yes, also did find it. The whispers I always heard, it was easy for me to think they were because I was too beautiful, too far removed. Every whisper, whether it was better or worse, than my reality was never the truth. It was never me. So I didn’t even remember to hurt – after a while. I didn’t recognise pain or loneliness. Really.

Because when you’re alone, you don’t miss yourself. You run away from it. And the people who don’t know you, but think they do? In the temple, at the well, in town – I revelled in their knowledge and their knowing grins with this unholy glee. It was easy to escape when you didn’t hear any reminders. The sins they conjured up – those weren’t mine. They were at the door of the village’s official outcast.

Me? I was the only one who knew what I had really done. What I had left undone. What I had said, and the moments I had chosen to turn away from the compelling of my heart, deliberately, uncaringly – because it was easy, and because I was tired. Moments preserved like specimens in ugly jars in the great, churning laboratory of my mind. Nobody guessed my soul-weariness of expected sin, of the convenience to never face yourself because no one knows you and it is easy to forget yourself. Nobody guessed, they had their own wearinesses.

Or so I thought until the day he came. Steady, unfazed and definitely – yes, definitely – looking me in the eye. Few men did that to women, let alone ‘forgotten’ women. It was a long time since I thought of myself as one – a woman, that is. And yet, in his eyes, I suddenly saw my reflection and, for the first time in my life, the brokenness showed. That and compassion.

And he knew me.

When I saw that in his eyes, I got to talking. Really fast. In short, sharp, staccato sentences. Brash talk, the fast kind. The kind that hides any realness, you know. Like you meet a stranger, at a bar, and he’s a little too intense for you when you’re vulnerable. Yeah, that – magnified several times over. So you toss your hair, you laugh at them, you treat them with anything but seriousness. You challenge their assumptions, you say harsh things, jaded observations – and pray he doesn’t notice you’re trying.

Well, you’re obviously a foreigner. Don’t you know I’m not the kind of lady you should be chatting to? So who do you think you are? Seriously, who are you?

No… Seriously, who… are… you? I want what you have with an aching I didn’t know I had.

Because then he goes and says something about water that will never let me thirst again. And I never knew I wanted it – but suddenly I do, with a loud lunge of my heart against ribcage. You know all those times no one ever hears that, and you’re thankful for the privacy of your pain? Well, this man – with his quiet eyes, his knowing eyes – he stripped away all my neatly set-up filters and I didn’t even know until a long while later that they were gone. The tears surprised me. I didn’t know I could cry.

He knew my secrets. My real secrets. It wasn’t that they were better than the ones the town gossiped about. But it was just that they were mine. Old, familiar ghosts that had the right to haunt.

Just like that, he knows me. And I am not afraid any more.

The true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

And, incredibly, he smiled. For the first time, I saw his tears. And for the first time, I was a part of the conversation. He wasn’t talking about someone else. I drank that in. Noisily, all my graces and sophistication in the well with the old water.

When I carried the story, I was so excited the town forgot to whisper.

I want to cry now. To wail and touch the evidence of death, to finish this impossible hole in my heart. I cannot see the body, the stone is rolled away. The tomb is empty and there is just the sound of someone walking, working in the garden.

The soldiers…? But why? The twelve? But surely, surely despite all their misgivings about the ‘strays’ he picked up, they would tell… I… All of us, we miss his voice, we miss his laughter, we miss his sorrow, we miss… Him.

Where is he? Perhaps you would know? Did you see what happened, did they come to take him when you came in to work on the flowers?

Mary.”

Mary.

And just like that, I know Him. The wealth of knowing in the sound of my name, it holds the key to life, my life, ours. He knows me.

And because of that, I know who he is.

“Rabboni.”

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