It’s been 3 days and I haven’t been able to sleep. I’m tried and I lay down, but just toss and turn. When I do finally seem to sleep the dreams wake me back up immediately, they won’t go away.
I can’t stop crying.
This had been my life for so long, these sleepless nights, nights filled with voices in my head. I had forgotten how terrible it had been.
And then I meet Him.
For the past 2 years my sleep has been peaceful.
But now He’s dead.
He was passing through the town I lived…lived really isn’t the right word…I existed there. I had no life, no family, no hope. Those that I might call “friend” still kept their distance from me. They tried to help, leaving me food and supplies and when the voices were quiet, I was thankful. But the voices didn’t stay quiet for long and then I just scared everyone…including myself.
They urged me, the voices, to just end it all, to fling myself from highest cliffs to the waters below. To cut myself and let the blood drain from my body. I tried, but those friends found me, bound my wounds and took me to see this Man they had heard of.
It was said He was some great prophet traveling from town to town, preaching, teaching and healing people, even bringing a boy back from death…right out of his coffin as they were fixing to bury him.
He claimed to be the Messiah, the One we had been waiting for to save us. The One God had promised our ancestors would come, that He would send to us.
Sometimes those promises were the only thing that would quiet the voices in my head.
When we entered the house where He was staying, the voices screamed and threw me to the ground. I started screaming the nearer we came to Him. I clawed at the arms that held me, I clawed at myself. The room was so quiet except for me and animal-like sounds that came from somewhere deep inside me. I could hear the sounds, sounds I have never heard before.
The voices were tearing me apart.
And He kept coming closer to me.
I could see Him, through my dirty hair hanging in my face now. I had crawled into a corner and huddled there. There was terror on the faces of those around me, but His face was calm and peaceful.
He reached His hand out to me.
“I’m unclean!” I whimpered, “Don’t touch me!”
But He did.
“How many are you?” He asked.
The voices responded immediately, with that animal sound, “Seven!”
“Come out of her.” He said.
My body trembled violently and I fell to the ground at His feet. I reached for them, holding Him by the ankles, as waves of torment shook me to my core.
Then suddenly, quickly, the voices left me.
The room was quiet and for the first time in so many years, so was I.
He lifted me and held me while strength returned to my body. He asked for water and washed my face. He asked for food, and prepared a plate and helped me to eat.
And now, for the past 2 years, I’ve been with Him and His men, following Him, helping to prepare food for Him, helping the crowds who come for the same healing that I had received, listening to Him teach and preach, believing…
He was the Messiah.
But now He’s dead.
Killed by the very ones who, just days earlier, had proclaimed Him King.
The dreams I’ve had for the past two nights aren’t really dreams, they are memories of seeing Him beaten to the point we couldn’t recognize Him. A crown of thorns jammed into His precious head and people mocking Him.
“Why doesn’t He do something?” We all wondered that. We knew He could, we had seen His power. I had felt it remove the demons from my body. But He allowed it to continue.
The men, His disciples, they left us (me and the other women, His mother too), except for one. We all stayed with Him as much as we could. We followed Him when they forced Him to carry the cross. I held His mother, when He stumbled and she tried to go to Him. The guards pushing her back.
We followed. We watched. We heard. We witnessed it all.
The nails in His feet and hands. The sign above His head. The jeering from the crowd, even the others being crucified.
His words. His agony. His peace.
It was mid-day and yet the sky seemed to scream its anger over what was happening. The day turned black. We heard screams coming from the town. Strange things were happening all around us. People ran, afraid.
But we stayed.
There was a guard who helped us take Him from the cross and some men offered to help us bury Him. We followed, as we had always followed Him, to His grave.
And then we went back to the home we had been staying, without Him. Slowly during the night, the others returned and as we had done in the past, we women prepared food for them and saw to their comfort.
But I couldn’t sleep.
There are things that have to be done. Women know this. Death doesn’t stop us from our duties. Quietly, while the men slept, some of us started to gather supplies. We had to prepare His body for a proper burial.
As we walked back to the place where we had left Him, we were quiet, a sadness covered us like our shawls, heavy on our shoulders.
Then came the morning as we neared the place and the earth, still angry over what had happened, shook and we held each other, but still we moved on.
But….He wasn’t there!
The stone over the place we had laid Him had rolled away, the guards in a dead faint on the ground.
He wasn’t there!
Some of the women ran back for the men. They came and saw for themselves.
He wasn’t there!
They left, but I remained, crying. “Where was He? Can’t you tell me anything?” I asked the gardener that had come near.
“Mary.” He said
That voice, I knew that voice, I had followed that voice, that voice had saved me!
He was there!
He was alive!
“Go, tell.” He said.
I went, I ran, I told.
He’s alive! Jesus is alive!