“Welcome home honey, how was your evening?” I asked my wife after she returned home from a work engagement recently. “It was good”, she replied. “And you?”
“Oh, me” I cautiously ventured. “It was filled with existential angst as usual. I’m glad you’re home though, now I can get back to seeking out ontological rationale through rote reference to external generalities that have little to do with my peculiar personhood. After all, don’t we all need to protect ourselves the mystery of our being?”
She rolled her eyes.
Can you believe it?
There I was, seeking solace from this dichotomous tension, weighing the horror of existence against the terror of non-being as Bill Watterson might put it, I expressed to my wife the gentle comfort of her providing me a most welcome distraction by merely coming home in the evening…and she rolls her eyes?! Who is this woman? Why is she in my house!
We in the church celebrate an empty tomb, the tearing of the thin veil between our experience and the Great Reality Beyond it. But more than celebrating the rising of our Lord, we also look to the empty space behind the tattered cloak, and somehow need to reclaim the courage to celebrate the absence of that which we hold most sacred.
There is no “something” that will fulfill the sense of lack we carry. No sacred object that will fulfill our deepest longing, no relationship that will unlock the secret to happiness.
The Holy of Holies is as empty now as the tomb we celebrate. That’s good news from a good God, for we can stop our seeking, our striving, our shaming…we can stop passing the buck and passing the blame and we can finally start living this life. The one we’ve been given.
We can finally take the risks that might end in failure, because failure is to be expected; embraced, even. This paradigm shift means every small moment; indeed every risk weighed and deemed worthy, is a moment ripe with the smell of conversion.
The empty tomb; the empty temple; the final acknowledgement of an empty life…it’s replete with fullness. And as we draw closer to the Advent season, we again have the chance to repent of our tired ways and small thinking. We again have the choice to make between flesh and spirit, old ways or new life!
But all we can do is roll our eyes.