We just finished The Poisonwood Bible in my Advanced Placement class, and today—literally within the hour before the bombings in Boston—we were talking about the diverse ways people walk through grief. At times tragedy becomes a public grievance; but more often, we grieve alone—in small family clusters, as my cousin’s family does today in the death of a young family member—just 23 years old, the result of a fishing accident.
In class, Tom said that “when we’re grieving, it seems like it should rain or something, but the sun just keeps shining.” It seemed an appropriate way to express the aloneness in grief. I suppose everyone must walk her own way out.
Death’s first sting is more a bewilderment—a wonder—a disbelief. And like the mother in the book, we feel like we just have to keep moving. So close here from Good Friday’s reflections, that is how I picture the women who followed Jesus—women who grieved. They gathered the spices for his body; they went to the tomb; they just kept going. And Mary Magdalene went so far as to beg whom she mistook for the gardener to tell her where he’d put the body, and she’d get it herself.
Who is to say what is the right way to walk through tragedy? And though we can feel alone, we aren’t alone. And when Mary was suppliant to the gardener, she was really looking at the healer of her greatest hurt. And little did she know that in her desperate aloneness, Jesus was literally the closest one to her. And in her utter despair, He spoke her name—Mary.
Today, He still speaks our name.