tombOh, Lazarus.  You never even existed, but yet you are so real.  You are merely a figment of the Jews’ collective imagination, but yet you are an archetype for all of us.  Dives couldn’t convince Abraham to send you out to him to give him a drop of water for the chasm was too wide.  He couldn’t convince the old patriarch to send you to his family to warn them of their impending doom and so you rested peacefully in the bosom of he whose descendants were as numerous as the stars in the sky.  So quiet and comfortable without a worry in the world.  No concern over where your next meal would come from.  No care about how the townspeople would treat you.  No more to fret over your sisters’ drama.  And then it happened.  The Nazarene looked toward where your body lie at rest in the cool dark tomb and with with a breath that carried into your lifeless ears called you back to this world.

What was it like for you?  Were you one minute listening to Dives beg for mercy and the next gasping for air under your burial mask?  Were you resting contently in the old man’s bosom one moment in perfect comfort and the next could feel your stiff back aching and pressed against the cold stone?  He called you and you came.  How the light must have hurt as it struck your dilated pupils like an insolent child when you walked out into the sun at noonday.  

You stumbled out, your funeral bands still clinging to your reeking flesh.  Four days in a damp tomb will do that to you.  Were you glad when sensation came back, though painfully to your body?  Did your lungs burn when air was thrust back into them expanding them like old wine sacks dry and cracked from disuse? Were you elated to be able to feel again or were you mad at the intruder who yanked you unwillingly from your slumber?  Did you despise this prophet for bringing you back from sheol?  Did you count it as selfishness that this man wanted you back by his side when he could have prevented you from dying in the first place?  What killed you anyway?  Was it despair or just ennui at being alive? 

I wonder what happened to you after that.  I wonder if you went on to do great things and make the world better for those around you.  Or was it that you crawled back into the tomb and curled into the fetal position in your bed of complacency?  It was your choice, after all.  Had you rotted so much as to preclude you from living with any semblance of normalcy?  Did it seem like an undue curse that was imprinted on you forcing you to carry it every where you went?  Or did you  have a new hope that made your heart soar as you were able to see and appreciate beauty for the first time?  Well?  

Why did that prophet weep for you?  Why did he feel like you had to be brought back, even it if was kicking and screaming?  Maybe he did it just to show the rest of us that we have that kind of power – the power to call the dead back to life with a single utterance of hope.  Maybe he wanted us to realize that such a force lived within us, too – a force that could propel even us out of the grave and into the light when it seemed that darkness was the only choice.  I don’t know either, but I guess it’s up to me to find out.   

2 Responses to “Lazarus”

  1. John Lovestrand Says:

    This is beautifully crafted; the inquiries poetic and the prose apophatic!

    “Just the ennui of being alive” …? What a wonderful turn of a rhetorical phrase.

    At least I hope it’s rhetorical, as otherwise woe be the soul tapped by such a state of being.

    Blessed are we to be fully engaged in this life, in the here and now; to live in this minute, this present moment.

    Engaged and energized — with each other and by hope.
    Infused and enthused — with love and by passion.
    Encouraged and inspired — with reason and by faith.
    Emboldened and undaunted — with good cause and by design.

    If we are fortunate enough (lucky enough?) to feel alive, need we be brought back from the dead?

    If we are content in this earthly existence, need we look beyond?

    If we are sustained by the love and fidelity of family and friends, need we plan for the hereafter?

    • Well said! If we are just the result of a happenstance union of stardust and carbon, so what!? If we can enjoy the beauty of life that surrounds us and relish the taste of bitterness in our mouths when it is called for, then let us keep doing it and do it well.

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