Sunday’s Scripture ~ I Corinthians 15:12-23.
Aslan has died. He sacrificed himself on the stone table in place of the traitor, Edmund. Bound and shaved, the great King of Narnia lays disgraced without breath in his body. Lucy and Susan, much like the women at the foot of the cross, weep uncontrollably. Their beloved friend is gone, along with their hope.
Then, CS Lewis “breaks” the “fourth wall” – a characteristic of his writing. He pauses the activity of the narrative and turns to speak directly to the reader:
I hope no one who reads this book has been quite as miserable as Susan and Lucy were that night; but if you have been – if you’ve been up all night and cried till you have no more tears left in you – you will know that there comes in the end a sort of quietness. You feel as if nothing was ever going to happen again.*
That chasm of quiet swept over Jerusalem after Jesus’ body was taken from the cross, swaddled in cloth, and laid in a borrowed grave. That chasm of quiet sweeps over any person and any house where the voice of a loved one used to be heard, but now is heard no more.
Sometimes the quiet is a welcomed relief. There is so much activity following a death that there is comfort to be experienced in the silence.
That silence…is also pregnant. Expectant. Full of energy as it anticipates being broken. What will be the first word? What will transform the silence into song?
The Rev. Jan Richardson is a writer and an artist; her chosen mediums are collaging, oils, and words. She is also a friend. I often turn to Jan’s art when I find myself in expectant silence. Below is a poem she wrote, I am sure, as she imagined the dew settling in the garden as day broke on the Third Day.
For Jan – the first word after the quiet that follows a night of mourning is blessing. Blessing accompanies the dawn.
Risen by Rev. Jan Richardson**
If you are looking for a blessing, do not linger here.
Here is only emptiness, a hollow, a husk where a blessing used to be.
This blessing was not content in its confinement.
It could not abide its isolation, the unrelenting silence, the pressing stench of death.
So if it is a blessing you seek, open your own mouth.
Fill your lungs with the air this new morning brings
And then release it with a cry.
Hear how the blessing breaks forth in your own voice,
How your own lips form every word you never dreamed to say.
See how the blessings circle back again, wanting you to repeat it, but louder,
How it draws you, pulls you, sends you to proclaim its only word:
Risen. Risen. Risen.
Thanks be to God. Amen.
*The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe 158.
**Circle of Grace 151-153; explore also janrichardson.com.