Jesus wakes up in the tomb. Entitled ‘Strange waking’, this is a chapter from ‘Gospel, Rumours of Love.’ It is told first person, through the eyes of Jesus.
There is a fire figure…I see them, a figure of fire, full of life and colour, orange and purple, green and blue, yellow and red. It dances wild. And then as I watch, a thick crust of lava begins to entrap her, form around her, enclosing. It begins to choke and smother the fire and colour, stifling her life.
And this fire and this crust is a dream, I somehow know I dream, one somehow does; and in the dream the figure is outside its body, separate from it, beating at the crust, trying to break it, to loosen its grip, to give the fire a chance to breathe.
But she beats in vain, for her arms ache and tire; she cries out in vain for there is no one to help and slowly the flickering fire is extinguished. Starved of air, the fire dies, the figure dies, encased in the dark crust, which allows only itself. All life is gone.
Yet the dream stays, I do not leave, I am invited to wait, invited to watch, sensing change, and change there is, wisps of random flame, dancing into life from the fire figures’ body… weak flickers at first, but each encourages another and then another still.
The airless dark, once death’s great help, becomes life instead, a path for heat and light in the imprisoning lava. And soon, fractured by the heat, the first crack appears in the crust, and then another… and then another still.
The fire figure gulps new air, with fresh burning. Purple and red, green and blue, yellow and orange, colourvreturns, the fire figure lives and the lava crust splinters and cracks. The fire figure burns again… and the fire figure’s free.
My eyes blink in the cool dark. I am with the dream, I am still there, but leaving it. I am breathing, I breathe in and out, I notice this, but with no knowing in my body of where I am and who I am. I am awake, my dream is gone, I do not sleep, I sense I wake, the fire figure gone, and down a path, some memory…
I begin to remember, though this cannot be, but I remember being lifted, hoisted, hoisted up, like a fish on a line, I am in terror, I remember rough nails though whether a dream, I cannot tell, and then I remember nothing and know only the present ache – the quiet ache of the wounds, the scorching past, though now almost pleasing, for it is gone, like a passing storm; and with more memory, from where I do not know, another pathway opens.
I feel terror again, my body jerks… but the terror subsides, I breathe again and beyond it is joy, which is a river running through me.
I am breathing joy in the darkness, which seems as light as day; though where I am I cannot tell, no memory here, no memory yet, paths still blocked and still uncleared, though it feels like home.
And I sense binding; it is coarse on my skin and itches; I do not mind. I am aware of being wrapped and bound in cloth, I feel constraint and I begin to move, I push and pull, I am lying down, I come to know this; I am lying down on hard stone – is this my tomb?
I am newly aware, awareness dawns, new pathways, this is my tomb, I am dead yet not dead – but my arms are now free, eased from restraint, sweet smells on my body and I feel no fear and slowly, so very slowly, I am sitting up. I unbind the cloth from around me, easy does it, hurting hands… and can this be?
As though death was here but now is washed from my body? Death on a cross, I remember – Oh God, I remember! – fear floods me, a rising torrent of dirty water, I cannot stop it, rising up… and then passes through, as quickly as it came and such space is left, such open space inside.
As though I died and now I live; and I cannot kill the joy.