The soft sound of rustling robes and leather touching stone gently nudge her awake. Raising her head from the table, she sees a sad, smiling face in the circle of candlelight.
"Would you like to come with us?"
Nodding, the Magadalene slowly pushes herself upright. Numbly staring at the candle, she drags the back of a hand over dried tears.
Silently the three women move around the snoring bodies of the Rabbi's disciples. One of the men abruptly calls out and starts to sit up, a dream bringing his outstretched hand up and grasping, as if being pulled to safety. They step around Peter as he slowly sinks back into sleep.
Softly closing the gate, the three dark shapes pause to reposition their baskets. Someone's heavy sigh is followed by a muffled sob as the group begins to move again.
Eyes slowly adjust to the dark as they move down the narrow street. Finally free from the walls of the city, the moonlight paints the path before them a glowing silver. They walk on, each carrying their own memories, their own sorrows.
The silence is broken by a softly-spoken thought.
"The stone. How will we move the stone, Mary?"
"God will take care of it."
Two shrouded heads look at each other briefly before posing another question to the older woman.
"And the soldiers?"
The pace of the women slow, the danger of being out in a dark, secluded spot with armed soldiers giving them pause - but only for a moment.
The quiet, strong voice of the mother helps them regain their stride.
"And God will take care of that as well."
They turn onto a small path that branches off towards the tomb of the Arimathean. They had made this turn before, less than two days ago. That memory, still painfully raw and fresh, is met with quiet tears.
They follow the path around a huge boulder and stop, giving out a startled gasp as the moonlight shows them what they feared.
There are two groups of men. A small contingent of Roman soldiers stand at attention on either side of the path while another group of men are sprawled around the entrance to the tomb.
An armored, older man with a leader's bearing barks an order, moving smoothly to stand before the women, his sword at a battle-ready position. The squad of young Romans clumsily move to flank both sides of the Centurion, hastily blocking the path.. Behind them a group of guards in much different uniforms struggle to their feet. Moving with the unsteadiness of the newly-awakened, they haphazardly fill the area in front of the tomb.
The women freeze, their eyes wide as the Centurion strides to within sword's reach. They quickly drop their gaze to the ground. Glaring at them, his granite face barks out a question, demanding a response.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?!"
Eyes on the ground, the oldest woman softly answers.
"We have come to finish the burial, Sir. We have brought spices and cloths."
"LOOK AT ME!"
Three heads swing up in unison, locked by the fierce grey eyes before them. The man steps closer to peer at the frightened faces. Recognition softens his voice.
"You. You are his mother?"
"And you two. You were there, too?"
Heads nod as their eyes go back to the ground.
The Centurion steps back, his sword pointing to the ground as well.
The women's faces lose all shadow as an intense white light bursts past the soldier.
A quick, deafening explosion flings the Centurion to his knees, blowing off his helmet while scattering his unconscious men like sand. The women remain standing, their eyes wide. Their robes and scarves have not moved. No wind, no force has touched them. Only the light.
The Centurion struggles to his feet as he turns toward the tomb.
It's a man. A giant, brilliantly shining man. Power pulses from him, hitting the Centurion like heavy surf from a thousand beaches. Dropping to his knees, the Roman starts to slowly fall face down, as if in a dream, his eyes fixed on a huge smiling face.
The joyous thunderclap of a laugh explodes from the shining figure as it turns toward the tomb. A huge hand lightly brushes the massive stone away like crumbs from a table.
The two younger women drop their baskets to cling to the older one. Mary does not move. She has seen such a one once before. Over 34 years ago.
The towering figure sits down on the fallen stone, casually leaning forward to place his elbows on his knees. His smile shines even brighter, his voice surprisingly soft and gentle.
"Don't be afraid. I know you're looking for Jesus, who was crucified."
The glowing head nods toward the opening to the tomb.
"He is not here."
Getting to his feet, he smiles down on the women. He lifts his gaze to the stars and turns slowly as if in the Arena. Suddenly the Angel punches a huge, blazing fist at the sky in victorious salute., roaring words that ignite tumultuous cheers in Heaven and terrified screams in Hell.
"He - is - RISEN!"