In all sacred literature, the hearts of the storytellers are revealed in the stories, their breath is felt in the words on the page, and we may be touched or moved or stirred by their ancient art. And maybe we can glimpse a truth that they saw, if we read closely and reflect on what we have read. And we can get a glimpse of what later interpreters saw, if we serve up their symbols as a separate dish rather than baking them into the story. We need a chance to savor each perspective.
The art of contemplation is how art begets art. It's how poems become songs, how stories become statues and paintings and rituals. One person's creativity awakens another's creativity, life touches life, spirit touches spirit—even down the long corridors of time. The Easter story has echoed down the centuries in this way, reverberating in sometimes surprising ways.
It says that after Jesus had suffered the worst agonies imaginable – has been physically tortured and publicly humiliated, pierced, broken and killed&—still there are those who care about him. He is beyond their help, but they surround him with their love. And after a time, Jesus is healed in the tomb—healed from death—and he returns to life.
How does this happen? None of his friends know. It hits them like an earthquake, or it comes as a puzzling surprise, that he is no longer in the tomb. They recognize him, and they do not recognize him. He has come through this trial a changed man. And he has something to say to them. Isn't that the story of grief? of shame? of despair? of all our worst suffering? We die from it, and afterwards we live from it. And then we have something new to say.