Walking up to the edge of the Pacific Ocean is an exercise in steeling one’s nerves. Icier by far than the Atlantic, the Pacific does not beckon bathers the way warmer Hawaiian waters do; it dares you to enter it. It taunts you with its aquamarine beauty while it threatens to shock you dead from the cold. It’s much harder even than to stand on a pier and dive into a New England lake where it is all over in an instant. No, at the California beach you have to go shallow before you can go deep. Whether you dart in like a child or tiptoe in inch by painful inch like a matron in a vast black swimming corset, it’s a process. Never comfortable. Always worth it.
I’m not afraid of my shallow side. I recognize that you have to go wade through the whitewash before you can ride the waves. Not that I surf mind you, but I do know first hand the joy of riding in on a boogie board. Not with reckless abandon, usually with some thought of the possible chiropractic implications, but with joy nonetheless. The exhilaration of those few moments always begins with my having to grab the guts to get in the water, to assume the risk, to get out there and live a little. But you do have to go shallow before you can go deep.
Perhaps the most joyous words Mary Magadalene ever spoke were those recorded in John 20:16: “Teacher”! Loving Jesus as she did, she had suffered much as she kept watch at the foot of the cross . She was among the final few who remained with him until he gave up his spirit. She witnessed his agonizing death pangs. She heard him cry out: “It is finished.” She watched as they laid him in his grave and sealed the tomb.
In the early morning darkness of the first day of the week, Mary returned to the grave of her beloved friend, mentor, and healer only to find it empty. In her distress, she assumed someone had stolen the body, and she ran to Simon Peter and John, his closest male friends, for help. John, who is telling us this story, reports that he went into the tomb , where “he saw and believed” that Jesus had risen from the dead. Jesus had been watching at a distance as Peter and John made their astonishing discovery, probably grinning to himself as he watched his friends notice the neatly folded head cloth, and exulting at their discovery of the fact that he had really done what he’d said he would: he’d risen from the dead. John saw the evidence and believed- just like that. Having seen what he needed to see, he tells us he went home. Pragmatic. Some of the sisters among us might think, ” Now isn’t that just like a man?!”
In the picture my daughter is a two-year old dancing in a sunbeam; her corn silk hair glows and her blueberry eyes are matched in intensity by the rich hue of her leotard and tutu. The dancing costume she so joyfully wears was found at a thrift shop, but she does not notice the worn elastic or frayed edges. At that moment she is a nothing less than a beautiful ballerina performing for her new teddy bear who watches from her bed.