An empty tomb

Death Shall Have No Dominion

It is said that She felt weary in the mid afternoon, and went upstairs to sleep. That She and the other women had been working steadily all day at those chores women do to keep the community healthy, sane and working well. When they went upstairs to call Her for the evening meal, they found that She had died.
The Dormition of our Lady
Again, it seems that the whole Church was there for Her burial rites - but all this is only hearsay, only tales. As is the story that Her tomb too was found, empty. Neither body nor flesh was there. 

Depending where you are in the church, the Feast of The Assumption, or the Feast of the Dormition, or simply The Feast of Our Lady will be celebrated with various kinds of pomp and ceremony. I personally do not ask anyone to believe any, or all, or even some of this story. That I personally believe in it with my whole heart is beside the point. 

For me, the point is this. The Lady Mary was no milk and water, silly virgin who had dreams of glory and specialness. She was no milk and water doting mother. Even as a comparative child she knew the hardness of real life. Her spirit was stronger than any flesh, any conformity with even the most moral of society pressures. 

Called to be a Tabernacle.
First Her Obedience. At one stage in His journeying the crowd kicked up a fuss  - 'Your mother is here!' and "Blessed be the womb that bore you'. For Jesus the thing that made Her special was not that She gave birth to Him. "The One who hears the Word of God and does it, this is my Mother".. 
For we are all called to give birth to a new and sacred being through the spirit. Whether we are male or female, we are to receive the seed of the spirit and give of the substance of our flesh, the nurturance of our minds, our time, talents and love, to bring that being to birth. She did it. Regardless of Her parents, Her risk of being stoned, regardless of all.  She was the first Tabernacle of His mortal life. The Orthodox call her Theotokos, God bearer. This too is our essential vocation. 

Second, She carried all that She didn't understand in Her heart, and dwelled on it. Where another might put off doing this and that until the whole was analysed and grasped, Ahe carried all these mysteries. Her life was transformed. She could never again pretend to be a 'normal' woman. She was going to be lonely in a way that no one could understand, as Ahe was going to have companionship of a depth and quality that most humans do not share. But Ahe did it humbly. It was not her role to swing round in silks and jewels and call Herself the mother of God. It was not Her style.  I think of Her working away at the laundry on the day of Her death, like any other woman. Being a little tired, and wishful to lie down, as many a woman has before and since, and I am filled with tenderness and fellow feeling. 

But this woman truly lived the Transfigured life. She saw and knew the Spirit intimately, and proceeded to live life as everyone else seems to. Carrying lunch out to Her Son and his disciples when they preached, walking with Him to the cross. Caring for them when he had 'gone'.  This Poet of the Spirit made a work of art, a treasure of Her life, fit to bear Him. 

We are meant to be like Her. With our own individual gifts and treasures, offering our whole selves to be the  Tabernacle of the Living Spirit, calling attention, not to ourselves, but to the light of truth which is, already, under every nose. We are more than we seem. We are more than we allow ourselves to be. Her great teaching is that there is no teaching. There is only the depth of being. The graciousness of service. The depth of love expressed in Her 'being with'.

She was 'with' the disciples', 'with the women', with the Spirit. 
She is 'with' Him in Heaven. The old Anglo-Saxon hymn has it 'Stond wel, moder, under the cross'. She stands well, and those around Her draw strength for their own work. 

There is a legend that I do believe to be true. That She walks the earth, speaks with the Great Antagonist strives with him on our behalf. That she is 'with' us. On our side, and by our side in the great dark times. 

I do believe it. Her quiet, steady, poetic, nurturing strength is there as a lesson, and is a rescue and vocation for each of us. 

She is the picture of the transfigured disciple. The picture of who we are. She is uniquely Herself. She calls to us to be - uniquely - transformed by both the immanence and the transcendence of God. 

Icon of the Dormition

That is what this long season of Trinity is truly for. That the yeast in us may leaven us into becoming the Bread of Life.  That our Spirits are strong. Strong enough to change the world.  It is not surprising that He loved her frail flesh so much that He came Himself, to take it tenderly in His arms direct to heaven. (I love the way He holds Her in the picture above, as a mother holds her baby). She had brought, after all, so much of Heaven bodily into the mortal earth.  Even so does He most tenderly cradle us, body and soul, could we but see it. Even so might we most tenderly cradle this poor bewildered mortality of ours, our earth, our family, our friends, might we but see it. Might we believe it. Might we but do it.