There’s a detail in today’s Gospel that repeatedly strikes me—and puzzles me. It’s what Peter sees in the empty tomb: the burial cloths…and the cloth that had covered [Jesus’] head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. This detail isn’t necessary to the narrative. And who had neatly rolled up that cloth? If it’s symbolic, I have no idea what it means. Is it an actual sight recalled by Peter? I have no way to verify that or deny it.
It’s a mundane detail, caught up in the resurrection story, as if the Fullness of Life does not flit away from our mundane habits. Somehow they’re all folded into this transformation. The Risen Lord is not a resuscitated corpse but an entire network of life, of living, still interacting with our daily lives and mundane habits.
We’ve just completed the celebrations of Holy Week, adjusting very little of the ceremonies even though our church is closed to visitors. We don’t perform for our guests: we worship as we do because we’re monks exploring through gesture and movement and words—some mundane, some awkward, some inconvenient—the mysteries we try to handle and invite to permeate our lives. We employ our bodies and voices, not just our minds, we collaborate because our life together, our vocation, our discipleship is a web of interactions.
Many of us were aware of the people who cannot be with us and people who sorely miss these annual celebrations; people who miss receiving communion, but nevertheless make the sacrifice to insure the good health and safety of others. Not congregating in one place, they offer together their sacrifice, as the Body of Christ, to serve others.
This is a token, a down-payment of our resurrection-life. We do not yet live the Fullness of Life. But if we have one collective foot in the grave, during this pandemic, do we not have one foot already out of the tomb with our risen Lord?