I really haven’t understood much of this Lazarus story, but this I understand; Jesus wept when he witnessed Mary’s sorrow. I imagined this scene in my mind, and felt Jesus’ great compassion in witnessing and knowing of another’s sorrow. It seemed to be his tender heart actually feeling the overwhelming grief that Mary and Martha and their friends felt, and he wanted to bring solace and comfort to these friends who were in such pain. This is the hallmark of compassion.
One of my favorite mystics, Mechtild of Magdeburg wrote:
“When you drink the waters of sorrow
You shall kindle the fire of love.”
This part of the Lazarus story touches me deeply, and reminds me of a time when I once had a terrible loss. Several months following my loss, I saw a friend who had not heard. When I shared with her the sad events that had taken place, she immediately welled with tears; she was able to so quickly comprehend and share my sorrow. We talked for a while, me mostly, while she listened with an acute empathy that was so loving. I was overcome with gratitude for her natural ability to deeply understand to some degree the pain I was feeling. Her compassion was tangible, and with it she brought me much solace that mere words from others had been unable to reach. I feel a special bond with this friend that remains to this day.
In this Lazarus story, I have been trying hard to comprehend the resurrection, the miracle if you will, wondering all the while, what are we to learn from it? What meaning does Jesus resurrecting a deceased person have for our lives today? Our loved ones will surely not be resurrected, even though we may want to believe it might be possible. If I consider this story from a mythological standpoint, it begins to read and sit a little differently for me. In mythology, this could happen, and embedded within the story is a lesson to be learned or an experience to identified with.
Mythologically speaking, Lazarus’s resurrection speaks to me of an eternal dimension, where it is possible that time does not exist, death is not forever, and dreams really do come true… In this dimension, fate could be altered, God ‘always’ hears us, and for ‘he that believed in me’ anything is possible. Perhaps this is the supernaturalism Crystal writes about. It must occur in a different dimension than the one we live in, because anyone who has suffered great loss knows that just praying or wishing it could be different does not make it so.
So, back to what are we to learn? What is the take-home message? I would say it might be this: When Jesus says, “I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believed in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die,” we are given a powerful message. I read that in this sense resurrection indicates the elevation of consciousness from lower to higher states, especially from identifying as a personality and a body to a kind of superconsciousness such as Jesus had. Even if a person is physically or spiritually dead, their soul, not identified with bodily life or ego, remains very much alive, especially in the hearts of those who loved them, indeed of God, and in this way they are elevated in spiritual consciousness.
As I think about my experience, it is rare that when someone dies, I only remember my pain or how awful it was. This seems true for others, too. Don’t we always seem to elevate the person who passed, almost holding them as if on a pedestal to look up to and remember fondly? Even if we do not initially feel this way, time has a way of softening our memories, easing our pain, bringing peace and closure to losses of all kinds. This is true in my experience. For this, I am very grateful, and have been truly blessed. This is a compassionate God who walks the ground of our Being – nurturing both inner and outer compassion. This is the gift we give to one another, and to ourselves. It truly kindles the fires of love.