24 February 2015

Jairus' Daughter: Ex Nihilo

Mark 5:21-43

just when it got interesting,

the story is over,
and I'm not part of it anymore.
I'll never know how it goes on -
never see the ending.

I guess
none of us do.

So away I drift
into eternal nothingness -
I'm sure it will be boring
to no longer exist.
But I won't be there
to care anymore,
will I?

I'll miss Father.
I'll miss Mother.
I'll miss my friends,
the fun we had,
the fun we could have had.
I'll miss the future
that You've taken away.
But I won't be there
to care anymore,
will I?

I'll miss being alive.
I'll miss the breath You blew into me.
I'll miss being part of Your story -
I'll miss being Yours,
out in no-man's-land,
where You don't come
to breathe on the bones,
because we're not there
for You to care

So away I drift,
away, away,
and soon I won't be there.
Some will care - for a while,
until even my memory
Will You remember me?

A light
drifts down into my darkness.
A voice
wakes me, lifts me
into life,
like diving up from under water,
like drawing the curtains for light to come in -
Talitha cumi! - Girl, arise!
My story is not over.
It has only begun.

You are the One
who can create Something
even out of Nothing.
You are the One
who will always care -
even when I am not there,
still You will find me
and hold me again.
Because of Your love
I am never forgotten,
nor lost in the darkness of death -
for You come,
You come, Lord,
to breathe life into the ashes
and raise up these bones,
to gather those You love
so we must never leave your side.

will have no victory.
And this story
never ends.


[2. + 24. February 2015]

(Yes, the big "break" at the start is intentional... to emphasise the "interruption")
So probably you noticed how this poem moves from "death as nothingness" to resurrection (breathing life into the ashes) and eternal life (never-ending story). I hope the ending is strong enough to "outweigh" the kind of "heavy" start. ^^; (And that the whole thought process doesn't weird you out...) (I sometimes try to imagine what it would be like if death really meant no longer existing and to me it's the freakiest thing ever.)

I wrote this not long after writing an essay about Old Testament ideas of death and the afterlife (had a class on this topic last semester), so some of those thoughts flowed in  - not necessarily that death means "disappearing" (I find it interesting how that is a relatively recent idea), but that it means falling out of God's reach (which according to the OT is pretty much the worst thing about death). In the Ancient Near East, the idea was generally that once people die, they go into an "Underworld" where they exist in a sort of stupour (and don't particularly like being disturbed), but are separated from God. The OT does, however, already suggest that God does have power over the Underworld too, that He can be present there too (e.g. Ps 139), and that He can take people back out. (You can find a sort of "summary" of this stuff here from my essay notes.) All this became much more pronounced in the New Testament though.

So I tried to depict that move from "death as separation from God" to "God's intervention into death", in the context of this girl's resurrection. We can have eternal life simply because of God's love, and because He wants to give life to us, and keep fellowship with us forever.
"Ex nihilo" = from / out of nothing (usually used to describe creation "out of nothing")
I think resurrection is also in a way "creation out of nothing" - in the sense that God doesn't really need anything to "be left" in order to raise us back to life. And just as God created all that there is, out of nothing, so He can create life anew. :)

Some little references here and there... in case you didn't catch them... The "breath You blew into me" alludes to Gen 2:7 (the creation of Man), the breath into the ashes / bones refers to Ezekiel's vision of God resurrecting the bones.
And the "story" imagery comes from little children hating cliffhangers! ;-) Or at least, I always used to!

Picture by Gabriel Max.

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