Easter night

Descent from the cross
and the aftermath


Epilogue Easter night


 

Epilogue

Easter night


The parapets and towers of the temple city sketched soft silhouettes in the air drunk with the light of the full moon.

The expanse of the valley is flooded with silver shimmering light hovering over the barren heights of the Judean hills like glistening hoar-frost.

We are far from the city wall; in front of us lies an olive grove.

Like a greyish green cloud it nestles up to the steep slope of a hill.

But near the vertical rock face has been planted a row of solemn dark trees – you can see human will planted them in this way – and now they soar above the cloud of thick grey-green foliage like a band of guards in black armour.

Deepest silence reigns.

But was that not a white shape we saw, there on the edge of the olive grove where light shadows separate it from a sloping field of asphodels? –

Yes, indeed! – Something is moving!

There’s a man!

A figure dressed in white steps cautiously forwards, lifting his arm up, probably to shield his eyes from the moonlight; he carefully searches the open terrain…

Nearby, a track leads into the mountains.

It lies there like a bright rope carelessly dropped to the ground.

Your eyes can easily follow it until it disappears halfway up between protruding rocks.

The scout keeps searching in every direction but evidently finds nothing of concern.

Now he steps back into the blue shadows and disappears among the olive trees.

Whatever was he looking for?

But there you see again something white appear; but this time there must be several men, for at the same time you are aware of white flecks catching the light and then disappearing again atdifferent places between the gnarled trunks.

One of them now steps out into the open.

No, – look there’s another!

They are carrying something.

It seems to be a heavy and precious load…

Two more men now come into view, and now you can see clearly that it must be a man, or even the corpse of a man, which the four in white are seeking so cautiously to recover.

It is wrapped in white, like them.

Whatever can have happened there? –

Now they have walked through the sloping field of asphodels without making a sound and have reached the path.
Now you can see even more clearly that they are carrying one of their own.

But it must be someone who has died!

Under his knees they have pulled a long strip of cloth which reaches over the shoulders of the two men at the front.

The two bearers at the front hold in both hands the twisted cloth over their shoulders; they carry a heavy load.

Those at the back are carrying the dead man’s upper body: – they hold him around his back and under his arms.

His head appears to be supported between their shoulders.

The four men walk with difficulty…

Their progress is slow.
After they have walked for some time and begin to fade from view, you can see that they are cautiously resting a while.

It might be that they are scanning the terrain once more; yet while resting they continue to hold their dead comrade very carefully in the sameposition in which they have carried him until now.

They must have loved him dearly when he was still alive! –

No man unloved is carried like this!

There is reverence in the way they carry him…

They continue walking.

They are now already very close to the mountains.

You can only see them now as something white slowly moving forwards; if you had not seen them previously you would be hard pressed to pick them out on the white track.

Now they turn behind the rocks concealing the track.

There is nothing to be seen of them now…

The silver shimmering light of the moon covers the countryside.

The track once more looks as though it had never before been walked upon…

Suddenly there is a wild shout – coming from where the dark row of trees towers above the olive groves!

Then another shout – unrestrained like the loud cursing of raging soldiers – and in the darkness the red glow of torches flickers and vanishes with the din towards the city walls.

You could only see the flicker of the torches when they shone against the dark rock face and the row of black trees.

Then their light was consumed by the brightness of the moonlight.

Now there was nothing more that could be discerned.

Here you cannot see the track leading to the city gate; otherwise you would be able to make out the red torches again in the shadows of the city walls.

Yet on the barren hill of shards outside the city stand three crosses.

On two of them the bodies of the crucified can still be seen, but it looks as though the third cross is empty…

Yes, you can see clearly that it is empty!

Everything is so bright on this night.

But why was the cross put up there?

Someone must surely have hung upon it!

Why, then, had he been taken down? – –

Was it perhaps the one whom the men in white had carried away??

In that case he must have died quickly; for sometimes the crucified hang there for days, close to death, until they suddenly screech like savage beasts, and you can see that their suffering is not yet over.

Perhaps he was one who could not bear much pain, or one who had almost died from torture by the Roman band before they hanged him on the cross…

But how did it come about that they took him down? –

In the olive grove peace reigns again.

Let us go over and find out the cause of the din.

There is surely no-one there any longer.

But this is definitely no olive grove!

It is the open garden of a rich man!

Following good footpaths we have reached the tall dark trees.

Is that not an opening hewn into the rock face?

Indeed! – It is a tomb!

It is dark here, for the moonlight is obstructed by the rock face, and we have no torches.

It appears to go far inside, but we do not dare to go in lest we fall into a hidden pit.

But, here comes one of the men in white again!!

Who can it be?

It must be the owner of the garden!

But what is he doing here at this time of night?? …

Are you with those who seek the one who was buried here?!”

“No, we know of no-one to be buried here; we just saw four men, dressed as you are, carrying a dead man from this garden towards the mountains. Then we heard a great noise coming from here and saw the light of torches.”

“Keep as your secret what you were permitted to see – – But know this: the one you saw carried forth died of torment, and yet he lives!”

“We noticed earlier that there was no-one hanging on one of the gibbets on the hill of shards, and yet someone must have been hanging there. – Was it perhaps the one of whom you speak?!”

“He it was! – And he is my brother! – And those you saw carrying him were his brothers, as they were mine! – ”

“Oh, but why was he condemned to die?! – Truly, you do not look as though you were the brother of a robber and a murderer!” – –

“Because he redeemed men from death, and because the eternal dead demanded revenge!”

“These are words far beyond our understanding and strange to hear, yet you speak in a way which compels belief.

But why was there that din we heard before? – ”

“That was the guards whom we lulled into a magic sleep so that we could recover our brother’s earthly body resting briefly in this tomb at the request of a rich friend and granted by the ruler of this city.

They were supposed to watch over the grave. When I awoke them, acting as though I was merely passing by and did not know why they were sleeping here, they lit their torches and found the tomb open and empty.

That explains their irate cursing!

Now they are searching in the city for those who might have opened the tomb, and they seek the corpse.

But I shall stay here to comfort the friends and disciples of my brother when they come to his tomb to mourn.

I shall stay here to tell them that he lives!”

But we saw your brothers carry his body away from here!”

“And yet he lives, he, to whom this corpse was garb and shell as long as he needed garb and shell to reveal the spirit to those who only see garb and shell!” –

“If what you say is true, tell us where we might find this man who lives; for you speak as of one who should be sought, even if one had to travel to the ends of the
earth! – –”

“Within yourselves”.

And while we looked at each other in amazement, not knowing what these words were supposed to mean, the man in white left us before we noticed. As we called to him, we received no answer of any sort…

Only in later days were we given light; we beheld the living one and comprehended his exalted teaching. From that moment he was in us!

While the man in white had been speaking to those questioning him, two of his brothers were waiting in a rocky gorge not too far away for the other four to bring the brother’s corpse.

Those waiting had collected wood and kindling, piling it up so that the corpse could lie upon it.

Now they saw the bearers approaching and hurried towards the weary men to help them carry the corpse.

Stirred – in wordless reverence – the six men raised their brother’s corpse, his work now completed, onto the pyre and committed him to the flame sparked on a stone…

From a distance you could scarcely notice the slight trace of smoke gradually drifting over the mountains as the first rays of dawn gave a reddish hue to the ridge.

He who was truly risen wanted everything to be thus, and his brothers duly carried out his behest.

The decaying remains of his earthly body were not to hinder the resurrection which he had prepared for himself in the souls of those belonging to him. – –

But now he was released from everything which was not spirit to him. Now that he was freed he was only conscious of his spiritual form, – not knowing any more of the injury his earthly body had suffered.

Himself resurrected in his spiritual form, he has been, since those days, present in a state of exalted life in the spiritual realm of this earth as resurrection to all who are true disciples of his teaching in deed and life. –

And so he lives amidst his own as he had once promised: – “unto the end of the world!”

(From: The Book Of The Royal Art pdf pages: 116-131)