I love the idea that Spirit (in this story, Jesus as the embodiment of Spirit) comes to us to forgive us. Forgiveness is a powerful and necessary thing, for to be human is to make mistakes that require forgiveness. Or as the shamanic tradition might say it: mistakes that require ceremonies for putting things back in balance again.
I’ve often wondered why Jesus was laid in the tomb. God can make the resurrection happen anyway God wants. Why didn’t Jesus just fly off the cross, fly around the temple and vanish into the sky? Why didn’t a host of angels come down and carry him off with trumpets blaring? Why would God have a few people take Jesus down, wrap him up and lay him in the tomb, and then just have him gone on Sunday – leaving all sorts of alternative stories to be told (they stole the body, or he didn’t really die, he woke up and walked out of the tomb, etc.).
I think here is the great mother in the story. The sky father played his part in the story- the preaching, the words, the healings and public relations. But Jesus must enter into the realm of the great mother – the earth – in order to finish the healing process of this ceremony. The sky father is great at talking and ideating and law giving, but the earth mother is the healer and they must work together.
So after all that public work, Jesus enters into the tomb, into the darkness of the womb, and in a secret process that none of us are allowed to see, the collected spiritual toxins are taken into the earth to be recycled by the great mother, as everything else is, was and always shall be. I see the great mother everywhere in the bible, even though the priests, bishops and emperors who edited and rewrote the Jesus stories uncountable times thought they were keeping her out.
I love the idea that Jesus enters the tomb/womb and then emerges changed and sanctified. This is the power of the Spirit in Earth—to remove from us the energies that block our connection to Spirit and to reaffirm the mutual embrace between us and the divine. All our talking, all our preaching is fine, but we must finally involve the earth to complete any healing ceremony.
I love that on the first Easter morning, it is Mary Magdalene, not one of the beloved male disciples, that first discovers the empty tomb, and first sees the risen Jesus and mistakes him for a gardener—one who works the soil, whose hands are covered in mothering, changeable earth. Peter, who would establish the unerring, unchanging male church and become the first unerring sermonizing, rule-dispensing Pope, was hiding in some corner, wrapped in grief, praying that no one would recognize him as a follower of Jesus. After teaching them all to summon hope for a renewed world, a world of loving kindness, a world where the men with armies and money would realize they were not the real power, suddenly in a few short hours Jesus was dead, in abject humiliation; one of dozens, maybe hundreds of anonymous, petty criminals easily dispatched by the state that day. That renewed and renewing world crashed. The disciples ran, panicked, in fear and anguish.
Mary knew that when the grief beyond words comes, when words fail, we head to the earth - to the garden - to have the grief taken and transformed. She is the first to meet the risen Jesus. This passage is so beautiful I swear it is some kind of incredible goof by the many redactors of the scriptures. Or, like so many times the great Mother inserts herself in the story even as the men try to keep the patriarchal filter in place.
You have been told that he emerged from the tomb totally disconnected from the world, more air than earth and therefore we too should strive to be airy and separate. But that is Peter’s wordy story after he came out of hiding, and Paul’s shouted sermons as he twisted the tale to his own liking. I say to you: After all the talking, Jesus went to the mother to be cleansed and healed and sanctified, and he emerged from the mother not as a spirit of air but as an enspirited earth creature, as a human infused, permeated by earth spirit, and that is what Good Friday and Easter teach us.