He is not here

You know it had to be one of the worst mornings ever, that first Easter morning. Not only were Mary and the disciples mourning the death of Someone whom they loved, they were afraid. So they were hiding from the Romans, fearing they would be next.

A dark place

They were grieving. They were afraid.  They felt abandoned.  They felt hopeless.  Grief. Loss. Fear. Sadness. Sorrow. Confusion. Abandonment.

Mary got up to leave. She must leave. She had something to do. It was a dark place Mary went, the cemetery where they left the lifeless body of  Jesus.

Imagine the long, tearful walk she walked alone.  Tears. Could there be so many tears?  She had never cried like this.  She had never gone through this.  No one had ever gone through this. She must have been frightened.  She must have been sad.

She must also have been in love.  She loved Jesus so much she left the safety of the others hidden in that grief-filled room.  She went alone.  No one else had the love or the guts to do what she had to do, visit that borrowed tomb.

I cannot imagine her confusion when she arrived and she met what she thought was a gardener.  Her frame of reference, her point of view were shaped by the horrible hours she had just experienced.  The betrayal, the arrest, the trial, the torture, the spikes, the blood, the darkness, the earthquake, the torn temple veil — all shaped her mind and left her little prepared for the next event that topped anything she had experienced in the last three days.

A light shines in a dark place

She looked for a dead man and thought she found a gardener.

“Please Sir, what have you done with the body?”

The body?  A dead lifeless form that had held the Man whom she loved?

“Mary, it is I.”

He’s alive! He is risen!

Where there was darkness, now there was light!

Can there be, has there ever been such a shocking turnaround?  Not merely from darkness to light, but rather from death to life?

Light was shining in the darkness of that morning, but also in the dark gloom of her thoughts, her mind and her heart.

He is alive!

You know the story. She ran back to tell others.  John — the disciple who writes more of love in his Gospel than the other three, the one who wrote those famous words, “For God so loved the world, He gave…”  loving John ran to the tomb.  From fear and grief now to unbelievable excitement.  John ran.  Peter ran.

Peter outran John.  He was first.  He stooped down, and there were the grave clothes, neatly folded. (Isn’t that just like Jesus to leave things better than he found them?) Angels met Peter and the disciples.

He is not here. He is risen!  It is Easter this morning as I write this. I look up. I look past the cross. I look past the darkness.

He is not here. He is risen

He is risen!

Footnote:  And so, here in little Wilton, I don’t have to look far to see the story.  All within sight of my home (if it weren’t for the trees) are these pictorial reminders that Jesus is a Risen Savior.

May 31

Dedicated to those who are still prisoners of war or are missing in action

This year, a new twist, a dedication to the Prisoners of War and the Missing in action. The table with the flag, the vase, the lemon, the place setting, and all are part of a ceremony to remember the POW and MIA. It was part of the dedication of the Freewheelers mc clubhouse.

The annual Memorial Day ride collects bikers from all the clubs who share a common passion for the United States of America. I feel honored to ride this annual ride with other patriots, with veterans and those who love these United States.  It’s an annual ride to honor those who have served and died.

For those who are combat vets from Vietnam and other military actions, this is a day of fellowship for them, a day of closeness.  Often during the day I saw evidence of a brotherhood, a bonding between vets.

Saluting at Taps

After the ride left The Shop in Bismarck, we rode out to Veterans Cemetery for the annual service.  There, patriotism and respect was thick, shared not only by an off-duty soldier but also the young man who stopped at every grave marker to salute the dead.  The young man was very careful not to step on the gravesite of any of the dead whom he saluted.  Through the entire ceremony he worked his way through the markers, stopping at each one.

A young man's salute

Flagpoles ring the center courtyard of the cemetery, and bikers manned their station to raise the flags to full mast, then lower them to half-mast to honor the war dead.  In the last two or three years, bikers have contributed time and money to honor those who are currently serving and those who have served in the past. It’s not a new thing, but it has become recognized as an essential part of military and veteran services.  So, they are invited to ceremonies such as this, and take an active role in the ceremony.

Meanwhile, families gather to remember those whom they love and have died.  Their private grief at is off to the side of the ceremony where they can enter in to their own memories.

I get very immersed in the story of the day, paying attention to the activities, but also the atmosphere of the  setting.  I hope these photos give you a sense of the deep gratitude which we share for those who have served in the military. Without them, we’d not be who we are.

Remembering alone