On Tuesday night (March 13) a tragedy happened in one of the Swiss tunnels: The bus, carrying school children between 11-12 yrs of age and the accompanying adults returning from a ski trip, crushed into tunnel wall.
Only a few days earlier, two teenagers in the USA were standing by the coffin of their mother who died of cancer.
Two examples of orphaned parents and orphaned children. Tragedy and pain are bilateral. Commonly shared future buried in an empty seat at the table, in the silence of the phone number that will not be answered, or behind the door that will not yield a knock of the one.... Spaces that are devoid of the physical presence of the loved one, his or her habits, words, touch, routines, etc. are heavy with emptiness. Their load is invisibly crushing one to depth of human pain.
The tomb of Easter morning was an empty tomb. The emptiness of that space was initially confusing, perhaps even frightening for the women and Jesus' disciples who hurried to the place where their loved one was laid to rest. Yet, the emptiness of the Easter tomb had and continues to have a different "effect" on the people of faith. It charges people to live by spiritual imagination. In other words, it calls believers to imagine what shape, what flesh, what practices they will give to their life of faith with Jesus being resurrected? Yes, the body is gone, yet, there is a new task: to re-imagine, to re-create a new body, a new life that will remember, celebrate, and re-enact the life of the one who is gone.
I look at children who are able to age with their parents, I look at parents who are able to leave this world before their children do, I look at siblings who are able to grow their white hair together, I look at couples who are able to celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary, and I say to myself: What a privilege, what a gift! Yes, I believe that it is a privilege to have a family space and a family table occupied as long as possible. Yet, when the empty chair at the table sores our sight, we need, or even must, fill it with the legacy of the one who used to sit there. This is a vision, a prayer, and a task that the Easter tomb calls people of faith to do.