Intangible unicorn – illusive hope
Hope is that intangible unicorn. No one seems to be sure what it is or how to define it. However, we know when she/he is there. I have a tattoo of her/him; I wear a semicolon ring to remind me that I met hope in the swamp of despair where death was better than life. Friends have told me they, too, met hope in unique wastelands.
I have been contemplating hope in this season. I look at our world in chaos, and I hope. I see the deaths, hunger, loneliness, and I hope. I see brother attack brother, and I hope. Sister snaps and cuts down sister, and I reach for intangible hope. Hope seems to love hanging out in wastelands, so I wept and searched for her/him.
Yesterday, I drove past pop up the tent I had never seen before in a corner I was familiar with. A honey seller had made it a honey spot. Sweet honey. He was not there. In its place was another tent; “ammo sold here” the new sign. No sweetness, just bullets. I am a wreck. Something about the exchange left my stomach filled with lead. And so I reached for hope but nothing.
Today, I find myself among the ladies with Mary Magdalene at the tomb of Jesus Christ. The story takes place on the third day after Jesus’ trial, crucifixion, death, and burial. She is weeping at the end of love and hope. The grieving women carrying burial spices had discovered the empty tomb of Jesus along with an angel who tells them that Jesus has risen from the dead.
Text: John 20:11-18 (NRSV)
11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and 12 she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 they said to her, “woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”
14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardner, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher).
17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and she told them that he said these things to her.
Did you catch it? Did you see it – the heartsickness and anguish from the death of hope? Mary wept. Her Lord is dead and taken- she even said so to the Jesus(Gardner) she did not see. She and the disciples had hoped he would save them. Now, hope is dead and stolen. They had reached, but there was no hope. Fear is marketed on every platform. What’s left is swampy wastelands at every turn and the stench of death. If there ever was a valley of death, here it is.
“Mary!” then suddenly hope appears. Hope at the tomb where our expectations and desire went to be buried. The beautiful intangible unicorn- hope. Resurrection. Redemption. Intangible hope. Not the wishy-washy hope that has its bases on denying real pain and suffering. Not that crap about thinking happy thoughts while sticking my head in a hole pretending the whole is not on fire, and my honey spot is not an ammo spot. No, not that fake gold-dusted lie of a hope. Real hope. Jesus called out to Mary. He calls out to you and me at the graveyard. He knows all about us and our dead things. He knows the sleepless nights, the dying marriages, the fears about making bills. He knows
Hope seems to like hanging out in wastelands. I am talking about the real illusive gritty hope. The hope that knows that crap happens but looks to God, our caring mother and defender father, with tears knowing that there’s a plan even if we don’t understand it. I am talking about the hope that brings oil and spice to anoint dead things. Real hope. I see dead things, and I have brought my oil and spices. Resurrection is on the way.
At the wastelands, maybe I will hear him call your name, and we would look at each other with an understanding of the deep joy in catching a unicorn.