It’s raining: a deep and methodical drumbeat on the roof outside my window. It’s April: the rain is just as it should be. Finally, rain to green up this brown world. Something about the last few days had been unsettling and gloomy. Gray clouds without substance piled and drifted aimlessly over the foothills, holding a promise of rain but no rain. Then the sun would come out, glaring with anarchic terror, and any cloud that was thinking about existing puffed off without an apology.
But this rain tonight is a sigh of relief, both for me and the sky. The fulfillment of an expectation is always a relief.
It’s also the night before Easter. Two years ago, my aunt passed away the night before Easter, with just half and hour before resurrection day. But she wanted her reward sooner, and time couldn’t hold her, and she slipped away. There are memories of her that resurrect themselves every year. No, it’s more frequent than that—this month it’s been every day. Her apple-cheeks that became rounder and rosier when she smiled; her mischievous twinkle when she was about to say something funny, something shocking; her resplendent optimism in her future with her beloved Jesus, especially when cancer left her breathless; and the bits of advice and Scripture that she passed along to me through others, when I couldn’t visit her.
“Little things aren’t everything,” she said, “but they do add up. When choosing somebody to marry, make sure the good in them outweighs all the little not-so-good things.” She was right; those little things did add up, and, in accordance with advice I received from my parents and others, I did what I needed to do, sending a guy away to explore new pastures (he is now happily married).
She also passed along a verse to me. Psalm 138:8. “The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.” This, after my disappointment in being no closer to marriage than before, and feeling like the time spent in getting to know this person was a waste, and that perhaps, as I said in my muddier moments, all this preparing for marriage has been a waste too and maybe I should go find an orphanage to inhabit—ahem—to work in. But this verse spoke to me of the thriftiness of God. He does not abandon the works of His hands. There are no uncompleted projects in His basement. He will perfect, finish, complete, mature, that which concerneth me. Does something concern me? It concerns Him. Therefore, it need not concern me. I wish I could have thanked my aunt for her insight, even just said goodbye, but I did not get a chance to visit her before she passed away.
The rain is gentler now. The ground is receiving it with gratitude. Tomorrow is Easter morning, the Easter morning that brought Mary to her beloved Shepherd’s tomb. She, preparing herself to see, to bind, to anoint, the bloody wounds inflicted the day before. She, preparing herself to resist the three-day-old stench penetrating the dusty air of the cave. She, wracked raw by the sorrow of losing a good friend, and of having it be her fault.
He, unwrapping the dead-person clothes from his side and leaving them folded on the stone bench. He, stretching to feel the new life in his limbs.
Resurrection Sunday is about expectations met, promises fulfilled, longing hopes satisfied. Clouds promising rain, and clouds give rain. Beloved aunts that die, and beloved aunts that rise again. A Shepherd that was killed in place of His sheep, and a Shepherd that rises again, bringing His sheep behind Him.