Friday, 25 April 2014

A better resurrection

I think that if I were inventing a resurrection story, I would have had him reappear as victor over death with gaping unsightly wounds healed up. I would not, I suspect, have thought to have him going around with a hole in his side big enough to put one’s hand into. I might, I suppose, have run to some discreet scars and a little bitterness over how he was treated.

The Jesus who bursts back into Thomas’s life is much better than anything I would have imagined. His wounds are still open, with one plenty large enough to put a finger into. His preoccupation, though, is not with the past, but the future. He is moving his disciples on to a new world, where they take up the role he has carried. Jesus’s old work of forgiving (or not) will become their responsibility, and they will struggle to make others believe what they can never see.

So we enter a world where we know something new about healing, which is that probably we will never really be healed, although we may well be resurrected. What we are offered is a new life, not a patched-up old life.

I struggle to get my mind fully around this, just as I struggle to imagine writing the story that John writes of Jesus’s resurrection. There are memories, and actions, which I would like to be able to wipe out, to fully expunge from the record. I would like the ‘forgiveness’ or which Jesus speaks to mean that these things cease to be. But I think that that is not what is on offer. I suspect, reading this story, that forgiveness actually means that I will carry these holes in me forward for ever. A hole in my side wrenched by a mercifully lance and cruel damage inflicted intentionally to hurt me. They are mine forever.

I am not offered that these things will vanish. Instead, what I am offered is that they will become for my good, and for the good of others. If, in some ways, they will always define me, they will also become creative. I think, and I say this very tentatively, I think this is true. I suspect that the more I try to turn my face towards all that is good and positive, the truer it becomes.

I think you deserve at least some example. For me, the insecurities of my childhood experiences of my peers lead me to a solitude which is not, perhaps, quite natural to me. I am not any good in social contexts, and I never will be. It has made me miss taking up careers which might otherwise have been a joy to me. But it has also led me to be a much more reflective person, and to become a writer. This has come to define me, to become the holes in my hands by which others recognise me. The future beckons me. Maybe the writer I can still become will indeed imagine a better resurrection than mere healing.

Rosemary Hannah is currently writing a Victorian Whodunnit using up characters researched but not used in her biography, ‘The Grand Designer’; she also writes religious fiction.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah on Friday, 25 April 2014 at 7:00am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: just thinking

Rosemary this is beautifully written and very moving - thank you so much.

Posted by: David Runcorn on Friday, 25 April 2014 at 8:05am BST

Lovely. Also resonated with the command to the healed man at Bethesda to 'pick up his bed' and walk - he was to take it with him, not abandon it for a totally new life ... Thank you.

Posted by: Jonathan Jennings on Friday, 25 April 2014 at 9:13am BST

Yes, lovely reflection from Rosemary. I think solitude is a natural state for me, I'm not afraid of it. And I agree that the more we try to turn our face towards all that is good and positive, the truer it becomes.

Posted by: Pam on Friday, 25 April 2014 at 9:39am BST

Yet that's not the story! The story also involves the question 'how do we know it wasn't just a phantasm?' So the story includes the injuries - BUT he does not go around as a man crippled from the torture that is involved in the method of killing. It is therefore idealised.

This is always the argument made against those who thinks he survived - 'a miracle enough' - and left the tomb and met up with the disciples and crossed the border out of the Roman Empire as a wanted man (looking for the lost tribes). He would have been in a rough condition. But he's not: indeed walks through walls, appears and disappears. So it is quite consistent with hallucinations seen of loved ones and religious figures by a proportion of bereaved and religiously intense to this day, and it only takes an odd vision to work it to the beliefs of the time about the body and 'sleeping' when dead.

Posted by: Pluralist on Friday, 25 April 2014 at 1:32pm BST

Pluralist - this is the Gospel of John - it is the most sophisticated document, and none of the stories are 'just' about anything. If you are satisfied the world is that simple, you are. I am not. We agree to differ.

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Friday, 25 April 2014 at 7:06pm BST

Oh, Pluralist: "He is Risen", isn't "Jesus is resuscitated" . . . though it isn't that "he's not resuscitated". And "He is Risen" isn't "Jesus is remembered, via delusions" . . . though that's almost certainly part of it, also.

"He is Risen" is a PARADOX. If we try to wrap our minds entirely around it, resurrection emerges out another hole-in-the-tomb. Easter says YES to the *mystery*. Alleluia!

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 25 April 2014 at 8:04pm BST

"This is the Gospel of John - ... and none of the stories are 'just' about anything." Excellently said, Rosemary. Thank you.

Posted by: William Moorhead on Saturday, 26 April 2014 at 3:37pm BST
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