Sunday Morning, 33 A.D.
The soft sound of leather scuffing stone gently nudges 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?"
The Magadalene pushes herself upright, numbly staring at the candle as she drags the back of a hand over dried tears.
Silently the three women move through the snoring bodies of the Rabbi's disciples. One of them 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 him as Peter sinks back into sleep.
Softly closing the gate, the three dark shapes pause to re-position their baskets. A heavy sigh is followed by a muffled sob as the group begins to move.
Eyes adjust to the dark of the narrow street. Once free from the walls of the city, moonlight paints their path in silver light. They walk on, each carrying their own burdens and 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."
A pause then another question.
"And the soldiers?"
The pace of the women slow, the danger of being out in a dark, secluded spot with 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 the small path that branches off towards the tomb of the Arimathean. They walked this path before, less than two days ago. The memory, painfully raw and fresh, is met with quiet tears.
They follow the path around a huge boulder and stop. The moonlight shows them what they fear.
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 to stand before the women, his sword drawn. The squad of young Romans clumsily move to flank both sides of the Centurion, hastily blocking the path.. Behind them the 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.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?!"
Eyes on the ground, the mother 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 as he sheathes his sword.
The women's faces lose all shadow as an intense white light bursts past the soldier.
A quick explosion flings the Centurion to his knees, blowing off his helmet while scattering his unconscious men like storm 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, fighting for balance, and turns toward the tomb. His eyes widen.
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 slowly falls face down, as if in a dream, his eyes fixed on that 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 away the massive stone like crumbs from a table.
The two younger women cling to the older one. Mary does not move. She has seen such a one 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 of the tomb.
"He is not here."
Getting to his feet, he looks down kindly upon the women. He lifts his gaze to the sky and turns slowly as if in the Arena. Suddenly the Angel punches a huge, blazing fist at the stars in victorious salute, roaring words that ignite the tumultuous cheering of Heaven and the terrified screams of Hell.
"He - is - RISEN!"