Monday, March 12, 2012

As my church prepares for Holy Week they have asked a group of writers to come up first person narratives from 6 different events of Jesus' life.  The one I wrote was called The Jesus Who Transforms and it was to be about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  When my Mom read it, like any good mother, she oohed and aahed over it and asked if I would publish it here on the blog.  Of course, I always oblige Della!  :)

Here you go...

The air was sticky with grief. Lazarus died four days ago but his scent lingers still. Lazarus always had a woody smell about him and when he would hug me I could always detect a faint mixture of mint and jasmine as well. When my sister Mary and I prepared his body for burial we used these same scents to wrap him. Mint, jasmine, lavender, clove... I wondered now as I pulled a steaming loaf from the hot coals if I would ever be able to smell aloe and myrrh again without thinking of Lazarus' lifeless body cold in a tomb. I shook the image from my mind and began mixing berries and roots for a jam.

I could hear Mary in the other room with the mourners who had come. They had been pouring in by the handfuls since news of my brother's death had spread. Covered faces of wailing women now sat with her and she graciously accepted their condolences and kind words. I left all of this to Mary...I had no desire to sit with these people who had turned their water works on for tradition's sake. They didn't know my brother, my Lazarus. They had never sat beside a rolling stream with him, listening to his jokes, his stories. They had no idea that even the birds would stop to listen as he would sing. These mourners knew nothing of his playful pats, his toothy grin, his throaty laugh when he would read something that tickled him. I knew also that if I lingered too long in that room the finality of death's grip may settle deep in my heart and I may begin to weep and wail with them and never be able to stop.

Sobs began to rack my shoulders anyway. I needed fresh air. I wiped the salty tears from my face and grabbed the water bucket, making my way to the well. Even this held its memories of Lazarus. I remember the day he and and our friend Jesus had first pulled water out of its deep, earthy grasp. Their worn skin glistened from sweat; they had worked all morning in the relentless sun yet they looked like giddy school boys as they pulled up the first bucket, the cool water sloshing over onto their dusty sandals. They laughed and slapped each others' backs at their accomplishment.


Lazarus' dearest friend. Where was he now, now that his brother was gone from this world? No breath in his body, no color in his cheeks...we had sent word for him but he never came. For days Mary and I had held Lazarus' weak hand, slowly watching the life seep from him. We tried all of the herbal medicines and techniques our mother had taught us but we couldn't bring him back to us. Our hopes were high when we heard that word had reached Jesus and we clung to it until we saw the last breath escape our brother's cracked lips. He was gone. Jesus had not come.

Anger reddened my cheeks. I had seen with my own eyes the miracles Jesus could perform. He and his Twelve had eaten in my home and shared the stories of lepers healed, blind now seeing, of lame now walking. His name had been whispered in corners of my home as my brother laid suffering. Where was he now? Why had he let Lazarus die? I knew when I saw him I would ask; I would ask boldly and loudly and he would know he had failed me.

It almost seemed like a mirage. For as soon as I had thought the words I saw him walking down the short road to my home. I dropped the pail and ran until I found myself looking into his face, "If you had been here, my brother would not have died." I heard the accusation in my tone, suprised at my own charge I looked away. Moments passed before I had the courage to look into his eyes again but when I did I immediately recognized what was in them: sorrow. Jesus, my Lord, was carrying his own heavy sadness for my brother. How could I have been so wrong?

As we spoke, Mary came running to us and I saw Jesus tremble at the sight of her tears, "Where have you laid him?", he simply asked her.

The band of mourners from our home followed silently as Mary and I led Jesus to the tomb. When we arrived there, breathless from our quickened paces, Jesus stood at the tomb door. He raised his hand and touched the door gently, sadly. He stood there motionless for a few minutes before I noticed the tears falling from his cheeks, spilling onto the dry ground where we stood. Unsure of what to do, of how to comfort him, I began to look away when I heard him command, "Take away the stone."

I wanted to object, to scream in protest at the obscene thought of it but my heart reminded me this man was the Son of God. I had doubted him once today and I would not do it again.

"Lazarus, come out." The words boomed as they ricocheted off the stone. Mary fell to her knees and I felt the arms of one of the Twelve brace me as my own legs began to give out. I struggled for air as my brother stepped forward, still wrapped in the linen I had shrouded him in only days earlier.

It was in that very moment I understood. In this very moment when my brother's still heart began beating I began to put the pieces together. Dozens of dinners when Jesus had spoken of his own death filled my memory and I felt dizzy with realization. At once I understood, death had no victory. Death held no permanent sting. The voice that brought warmth and blood to my brother's corpse would boom again and there will be no more death.

With three words Jesus had transformed everything. Transformed death into life. Transformed doubt into faith. Transformed grief into hope.

At once, I did the only thing I could do. I fell at The Christ's feet and worshiped.


Jessica said...

Beautifully written Jen! Made feel me like I was right there!

Anonymous said...

I love, love, love it. You are one gifted, amazing writer.

Anonymous said...

In never seems to amaze me that you writing always has a WOW effect on me.

Anonymous said...

You ROCK, girl!

Anonymous said...

Hi Sweet Friend!
I love your narrative, The Jesus Who Transforms. You are an incredibly gifted writer. Miss you! JB

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

You would enjoy this link.

Anonymous said...

Sweet. Well done, friend!

Anonymous said...

Wow, Hot River Mama, your narrative is beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Sweet... way to use your gift to honor our Lord!