13They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
15“Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
16Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
It is often preached that Mary, in her grief, was unable to recognize Jesus when He appeared to her. She thought He was the gardener. How silly of her! Just like those rather thick-headed disciples on the road to Emmaus, Mary was caught in her own doubt and despair and didn’t know with Whom she was speaking. Thus we speak, with half smiles on our faces, of how looney she was. Perhaps even ridiculous.
I think we’re entirely backwards.
It was not Mary’s time yet to recognize Jesus. How hard it must have been for Him, in those first moments of seeing one of His most beloved friends, to hold back, hide Himself and listen to the woman’s terrible angst! He had just crushed Death itself! As God, He knew the need for perfect timing. As God AND Man, He felt the delightful pain, that beautiful agony of longing to tear Himself towards her, catch her up, twirl her around and shout: “IT IS I!!!!”
But He did not.
“They have taken my Lord!”
Her grief could have watered all the flowers in the garden. And here is where I believe is spoken the single most beautiful word in all of Scripture:
I imagine not a half-mocking tone at her inability to recognize her Lord, but a deep, gentle voice filled with that perfect love tinged with victory, knowing that now – NOW – He could love her like He had longed to since the Fall. FINALLY His Mary could come to Him. His voice would have been filled with passion, desire, healing, triumph, all wrapped up in her name. His voice would have been entirely full of her, and yet entirely filled with His own newness and infinity.
He spoke her name.
He did not berate her.
He did not ask where Peter was.
He spoke one simple word: her name.
The Creator-Gardener spoke with Eve in the beginning, and here — Creator-Gardener-Brother-Lover — was in the garden again, approaching the woman. Am I stretching the stories too far? Perhaps in the books of some, but spirit whispers otherwise. He utters the one word that wipes away all poisoned fruit, all snakes in the grass, all brokenness and blaming. She calls out for Him in grief, and He speaks her name.
In fullness, dignity, recognition, desire, purity, victory, simplicity, equality, naiveté, divinity, humanity… and love. He spoke her name.
One day… I will hear the same word. In grief perhaps when I believe almost all is lost, that I am at the end and there is nothing more to say or do… I will hear one single word filled with that triumphant love, that gentle sweetness my soul craves for: “Erin.”
“Rabboni!” I will cry and run to Him, falling into His arms… finally. For this I have longed since before my soul knew what it was to ache.
Unlike Mary, I will be able to hold fast to my Lord. Mary was not allowed to embrace her Love as she so craved… and as He so craved… because He was not in His final glorified state; He ushered her not to hold to Him but rather run and tell the others.
I will have no such barrier. The others will have been told. When I see my Jesus, He will be fully glorified and when He speaks that one word, I will cease to have words. I will feel my knees buckle, my face hit the dirt in exhaustion, bleeding and filthy.
And I will hear it: “Erin.”
All the world, the universe, my life will be wrapped up in that one single word, that one single moment.
That sound will be music to my ears. The grand finale to a Promise begun before time began.
Oh to have been Mary and have heard that first word spoken as Jesus the Christ, risen King. Oh to have heard that in my ears ringing again and again. One day…
And as He speaks my name, He will resound the names of countless others battered and torn, searching for Him. Every child sold by their earthly father… every woman sold countless times a night… every man held in chains in dark factories…
As terribly as I long for that moment, He longs for it more. And His longing grounds my spirit to keep fast to Him, to seek Him yet another day.
Ah, one day, Lord.
One day You will say my name.
And it will be beautiful.