How to Rise from the Dead

“It is always about revival,” the Teacher said. “It is about waking up. And there are layers and layers of your ability to awaken.”

Mary’s head was resting on his shoulder, their naked bodies covered with a soft blanket as it rained outside. No one from her family was home today; all were traveling to meet a cousin. This was why she invited the Teacher. It would be time to talk, to learn, to listen. She did not know they’d end up here, like this, in the bedroom on the floor. But she was happy. She felt the most peace she had ever felt.

“Why don’t people awaken?” she asked. “If they know they can be happier. Why do they refuse, when given the opportunity?”

The teacher rubbed her shoulder, her back, with his hands. She still felt a jolt when he touched her, like there was an electrical current running through him. But soon the intensity disappeared and she could settle into the warmth, what felt like magic, what felt like finally being alive.

“You’re braver than most,” the Teacher said, and he turned to look in her eyes. The flecks of green in his irises were like little birds, she thought. Little birds fluttering in a sea of beige.

“Me?” she said. “Brave?”

He smiled. “Bravery is not just for the people who go out in the night with swords, ready to hunt or conquer. There is a bravery in your soul that is important, too. A willingness to look and listen.” He moved his hand to her hair, brushed it off of her forehead. “You have that kind of bravery.”

She looked down and breathed. Her brothers always made fun of her, told her she was naïve when she asked questions, when she responded with “Why” as they said she couldn’t do this or that, that there were rules to follow. She asked a lot of questions, always, and answered them by acting in new ways. She never knew that could be called bravery.

She sat up. She wanted to understand this, and the Teacher always seemed to understand. “So you’re saying that people go through life, and opportunities come at them to awaken. And they know, on some level, that the awakening will be good, and it will lead to happiness. But they are not brave, and so they turn away and stay asleep.” She wrapped her legs into a circle and touched her fingers to her feet, massaging the tendons. “Is that what you mean?”

The Teacher raised one eyebrow. Mary didn’t know how he did that. She had never met anyone before who could lift just one.

“Yes, exactly.”

She squinted and shook her head. “That is so stupid, though.”

He chuckled.

“It really is.”

The Teacher shrugged. “People are very scared of what they don’t know.”

Mary took a deep breath. “But nobody knows anything, really. You really don’t know what can happen from day to day. There is no guarantee that tomorrow, you’ll even be alive.”

The Teacher sat up and moved his hair off his shoulder so it hung behind him. He touched his fingers to her knee and leaned in to kiss her. His kiss was gentle, and when their lips touched, there was a whiff of lavender, like a spirit floating by with a bouquet of flowers.

The Teacher gently pulled away, but kept his face close to hers. He grazed his cheek against hers as he spoke next. “The more you live in your head,” the Teacher said, “the more you think that you control your life. You come up with plans and strategies. You create a world there. And when things go as you planned, you assume that the way you are living is right. It affirms your belief that you create your destiny. It affirms your belief that you are in control.”

Mary smiled and took his face in her hands. She stroked his temples, his cheeks, his beard, which smelled like the forest.

“And it isn’t until something happens that is out of your control, that you finally begin to see what’s real,” she said. She touched her forehead to his.

“Exactly,” he whispered.

She pulled away again, but kept her hands on his face. “So the people who experience a life of upheaval, they’re the ones who are often closer to what’s true,” she said. “Because they’re more in tune with the reality that they are not in control. They’re humble. They’re forced to live in a deeper way, a way that is actually more rich and rewarding, even if it doesn’t look that way to outsiders.”

He smiled and sat up. “Now you’re the one teaching me,” he said.

She laughed and they fell back onto the pillows, the sound of rain outside getting louder, the mist of summer warmth flowing through the windows. There was a bird somewhere in the distance, a crow, she thought. Crows were always so loud, so brazen.

*This series is called, "Rewriting the Bible: The Missing Pages." Copyright ©MotherJana Publications

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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