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easter tomb

Easter Sunday, and amidst hymns the priest talked about the rolling away of the boulder, the empty tomb beyond. In his interpretation, this opening of the cave symbolises humanity finally coming into contact with God's miraculous spirit.

In his interpretation, humanity were the ones on the outside. God's spirit was the cave, or whatever was in the cave, or whatever wasn't in the cave when it was reopened.

What struck me about the image was the idea of the Holy Spirit as the atmosphere of a recently sealed crypt. I kept thinking about the air inside that chamber, riddled with bits of Jesus, the living and the dead, the decay and burgeoning mould and the feeding insects.

The priest was talking about the miracle of the resurrection. All I could think about was the stuffiness of the tomb. That's why the symbolism collapsed for me, because I couldn't help thinking that if the spirit of God was going to be anything it would be the open air outside, not the dank and morbid atmosphere indoors, dark, clotted and windowless.

Who meets who when the boulder is rolled away? What rushes in and what rushes out? What takes place in that sudden mingling of new and dying air, the hot breeze from the hills colliding with the stale updraft of an uncorked burial chamber? Part of the mystery has to be in the mixture.

The significance of the story lies in what can't be seen, the stuff that takes place beyond human sight. The body that's no longer there, a gap in the door where once was solid stone, whatever is created when that sealed room becomes just another open doorway in the world, a vanishing worth talking about.

Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Apia 090423