geezeronthequad: Easter – A Gravedigger’s Angle
Graves don’t attract most people. And most people aren’t attracted to people who are attracted to graves. Maybe that’s why my Facebook friend total is a little low. Graves (and the things that happen around them.) do fascinate me; I used to dig and fill them in. Gravediggers see things differently. I remember loving the job.
People go to a lot of trouble to impress others even after they’re dead. I always shook my head at the small private family mausoleums with outrageous extras (some play music, a little creepy at night). These were supposed to make people stop for at a few seconds, impressed that somebody important lay there. Cars whizzing by never seemed to notice. On a day our casket winch was broken, we buried a man in a casket of solid bronze. He almost took all of us down into the hole with him. Impressed? Let’s just say I remember him and that’s enough.
Graves draw the living who grieve. Conversations at graveside that all sounded like, “If you could have only known him/her! He/She was my world.” I had no idea who this was; they could never imagine anyone not knowing. We were instructed never to cut the grass on one grave. The husband removed the original sod and planted new grass which he would cut with scissors on his hands and knees. My Dad is buried there. The cemetery placed a small stick-in-the-ground plaque until a stone could be placed. When the mower guys would sideswipe it, the marker could go flying and it would be hard for a stranger to replace it properly. Mom never missed; she could have found that grave at midnight wearing a blindfold. You don’t lose the grave of someone you love. Not in the first century or any century in between.
Graves hold memories for some that many wouldn’t guess. A backhoe does most of the digging now but we’d still have to square them up by hand so everything would fit. We’d brace the sides for safety and then finish with shovels. One day I got in a hurry before everything was secure and jumped into the hole. Then the grave caved in. The guys pulled me out with a lot of ribbing and a verbal poke from my boss. But the paralyzing weight and crush of that dirt (and the death it symbolized) created a memory.
Then there was the tomb with the boulder for a door. Years before my summer there, some wealthy eccentric built a mausoleum completely out of huge unhewn rock and mortar; it looked pretty Neanderthal. Just before I started work there, they’d caught a young runaway couple living inside it. Seems they’d stolen a lot of porch furniture and accessories and had themselves quite a setup. The door to this thing was the coolest part. A boulder estimated to weigh around a couple of tons hung in the doorway suspended from iron hinges designed specially for the job. It had been hung so precisely that we could swing it as easily as any door in our house.
Gravediggers get Easter; it rings true to us. We’ve seen it. Rushed burials with almost nobody who cared present. Grieving people hanging around the grave ready to do anything and everything they could imagine for someone from whom nothing could be done. Hysteria if anything was touched or transgressed. (Let alone a body actually being moved.) But here my analogy begins to melt. I’ve seen boulders in the doorway of tombs but if they moved, it fell to the craftsmanship of an iron worker par excellence to make it happen.
And every grave I dug forty years ago is still full… and I don’t mean with dirt.
Without wading through all the theories here, Jesus being raised from the dead on the third day is the only explanation for Easter that make sense. We have no genuine reason to assume that the stories of Matthew, Mark , Luke and John have no historical reliability. We assume that first century people , being pre-scientific and all, were gullible stooges. They were not. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, Christianity would not exist on the earth today; it wouldn’t have lasted five years beyond the crucifixion. So how can we know what I’ve just said is true? Excellent question. If genuinely interested, dig here. But “is it true?’ is not the most important question. That would be: “How badly do I want to find out?”
There’s no lab where we can test for verifiability with no risk to ourselves. There’s no formula we can crunch with a pencil or a computer that gives a nice, safe, flat answer on a data page. Jeremiah said referring to God, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jer 29:13) The only way brings us to lay bare the core of who we are and ask Christ to take us. It’s not for nibblers. We run two dangers. What if we ask and no one answers? What if it’s all garbage? The second danger is this: what if we ask and He does? If alive, Jesus isn’t playing around.
John Stackhouse shares Jane Christmas’ thoughts on prayer. “On the surface prayer seems easy. Knit your eyebrows in concentrations, mutter a few words, and then get on with your day. It’s not like that in a convent. Think of the hardest job you could do – mining comes to my mind – and then imagine doing that in silence and in a dress. Every day the sisters descended into the Pit of the Soul, picked at the seam of despair, sadness, tragedy, death, sickness, grief, destruction, and poverty, loaded it all onto a cart marked “for God,’ and hauled it up from the depths of concern to the surface of mercy where they cleaned it and polished it. It was heavy, laborious work.”
That explains Jesus’ repeated prayer, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39, 42.) Heavy lifting on our behalf. A prof had run herself through the metaphysical blender and pureed her soul into mush. Having crashed and burned with all other choices dissolved in the sizzling acid of disillusionment and bitterness, she simply said to Jesus, “If you’re real, come get me.”
‘Tis the season to get “got”. How badly do we want to know if He is risen. I mean really with no shuck and jive, no smoke and mirrors, no bullfeathers? Finding Jesus alive can be dangerous. This is One who says in effect, “Hand me the keys and slide over. I will not be needing any directions from you.” That’s good because if our directions were any good, we wouldn’t be up our neck in stuff, have cried ourselves to sleep so many nights, feel so empty or hurt so many others.
He is risen as He said. It’s time to get “got”. Nobody can open the rusty door to our hearts but us.
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Please return your seat to the upright position and give your infrared night vision goggles to the attendant as you exit to the rear. See you next time on geezeronthequad.com.