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Saturday, April 4, 2009


J. Grant Swank, Jr.

It was that stark boney look. Calvary was smitten. Its face was just as we had been told in Scripture: rocky and dented with eye sockets, protruded with a nose-shape and vacant as a stare of death.

Along with other tourists, we trudged up the mountain, cameras in hand.

Three scrubby trees were at the very top. There Priscilla sat on some twisted tall grass spikes as I focused her in direct center of the photo. I imagined that that is where the crosses would have been punched in God's otherwise good earth.

It was a hot day.

It was time to leave the Place of the Skull--Golgotha.

In the valley was the Garden Tomb. We meandered toward it, in no hurry, sensing a reverential cast to all of nature. Greenery was everywhere. Bundles of flowering buds peered up to greet us. Sunshine filled all the gaps.

Slowly I made my way to Joseph of Arimathea's empty gravesite. It was carved out of the hillside. A trough had been dug in front of its beautifully crude stone door. Inside that trough the weighty rock slab would have been rolled to seal shut the entrance. No entrance. No exit. Tight. Any corpse inside was there for good, or whatever.

Robbers would have stolen from the tombs if the stone had not been secured.

I walked inside. There was no rock slab now to prohibit. The morning air welcomed my back to keep me moving till inside that resting place. My eyes adjusted to see the remains of shelves where bodies would have been positioned.

There I pictured His young frame wrapped in clothes, spices tucked in about the sorry piece. A separate cloth would have been wound about his head.

I suppose there were others making the same interior pilgrimage as I. But I don't recall any shadows but my own.

Timeless. It seemed as if I had left time and had no desire to return.

But time called out its practicality. With that, I was in the sun again, milling about the many as we hunkered down on rocks and patches of grass to receive the sacrament.

There was no reason to chat. No one wanted to chat. There was too much going on inside--not so much noise but voices from another time and friends from another culture than ours.

There was simply no way around it. One could not get to the dawn of the first day without going through the trudge up Skull's Mount, then making it into the valley where an empty borrowed tomb stood awaiting the gaping and the saved.

Sometimes in spring when I walk about the Lakes Region, I get that same feeling from the sun, especially when near a garden.