Today I was at the EMBA ministers’ quiet day with the BUGB president, Revd Dr John Weaver, which was centred on the seven predicative I AM sayings of Jesus and the accompanying signs as found in the gospel of John. We were invited to explore the texts in different ways at different times during the day, including with the seven signs to try to see it through the eyes of one of the participants. I opted for Lazarus (as did the person sitting next to me!) and tried to do this not as him reflecting back afterwards but to try to be him experiencing what happened – not easy as I’ve never been dead! I found it a compelling exercise and whilst what I scrawled – and have transcribed and extended - is not especially original or profound it has challenged me to think more.
I feel so weak, so ill – I ache all over and I so long to be well again.
I feel so powerless –
No strength to eat or drink, yet my mouth is dry
I am uncomfortable but I cannot summon the energy to move
When will I be well?
I long to be well again, to find my strength renewed, to be made whole and clean and free like all those others…
I call out for help… and nothing happens
I cry for healing… and there is silence
I wait for his coming… and no one comes
I am weaker still, and weaker…
Those around grow pale and anxious
Helpless and fearful
The light dims
The effort to breath ceases
Release comes as I slip into death’s embrace.
All is still
The tomb is still and quiet
Days pass – or is it eternity?
Time is no more
Silence and stillness
A voice breaks the silence
Crashes through the stillness
‘Lazarus, come out!’
Not a request.
A command to be obeyed cuts through the stillness
Shatters the silence
Breaks through the peace
And ends the rest.
I am compelled to action
Nerve and sinew quicken
Lungs fill with the stale, dank air of the tomb
Forced to my feet
Following the voice I cannot see –
My face veiled -
My body bound in cloths
Stumbles towards the sound,
Feels the heat of the living world,
Smells the scent of life,
Inhales clean, vibrant air.
Voices, deafeningly loud, fill my ears
Hands reach to tug away the cloth from my face
Arms steady my unsteadiness
My eyes, dazzled by the brightness
Amidst the noise,
The frenetic activity,
They guide me home
To the place where I died
And there everything is reversed
Spoken over and about
Death must be faced again
Life must be resumed
Is now the time to live differently?
To do those things I didn’t do before?
To be more spiritual? More holy?
Is it a ‘second chance’?
And must I die again?
And must I live again?
And must I pass though the gateway to life
That is the pathway of death?
Must I do?
Must I be?
Don’t cling to me!
I am not who or what I was –
I am not yet what I shall become
This new life…
This old life restarted…
This new expectation…
This new knowledge of what lies beyond now…
This status as object of curiosity…
This being a miracle, no of being a sign
Is scary, confusing, bewildering
I had adapted -
Well almost -
And now I must live
Give me space and time to adjust
It is good to be here tonight with those I love best
Martha’s cooking tastes so good –
Did I ever appreciate the subtle flavours and textures she labours over each day?
Mary’s perfume fills the air –
Had I ever grasped the depth of love she has for Jesus, the risks she takes to express it?
And Jesus, eating, talking, enjoying, challenging
Does he know how lost, alone and abandoned I felt when I called and he never came?
Can I ever comprehend why having seemingly left me to die he drew me back to life?
I must face death again –
Not today, but one day
I have no way of knowing how it feel
How it will come
Who will care for me
But now I no longer fear
For death is as birth
A transition point in life
Beyond that final grave a voice will call
‘Lazarus, come out!’
And I will stand and walk
Not back to this life
But, finally free, into the life of eternity…
Don't read too much into my choice of Lazarus - I was merely curious to discover where my thoughts went