When the women approach the empty tomb in the icon of the myrrh-bearing women, the angel’s wings fling off to the left along with the mountains. Everything in the icon points away form the empty tomb because, in an icon, anything with height tends to point towards or wrap around Jesus. Usually the mountains or hills will wrap around Jesus and over him, but in this icon, everything points away to where Jesus is …away, not here, gone, inside everyone.
And that is hard for me. It is hard for me to acknowledge, let alone, live out the reality, that Christ is being carried within each human I meet. Many monastic Rules, like that of the Benedictines, consider every visitor to the monastery to have Christ hiding within, making it hard to be unkind, unwelcoming, dismissive to any guest, no matter how demanding or no matter how late they ring the bell.
If Christ is no longer in the tomb – if He is risen, then my response is not to Jesus but to all of humanity and all of creation. My relationship with the planet and her inhabitants must shift. If Christ is inside the guy who annoys me or the woman who scowls at me walking down the hallway from Dagwell Hall, then my response must be a response worthy of their being Christ. And that can be hard work.
But though hard work, it is essential work, or there need not have been so much to-do about Easter. Jesus is far less concerned, it seems, with our theology of salvation and far more concerned with how we treat each other. So Easter, it seems, has to do with how I show up to people I dislike as much as how I show up to Cadburry Eggs -making Easter hard work.
The strife is not, as the song goes, “o’er” nor “the battle done.” Not entirely. For Jesus perhaps, but not for me. Not for any of us.