This morning, I watched the chicks scuttle around outside the door. Their mother was there, of course. Watchful, but not intruding. Because they were quite big now. That gawky, half-feathered stage. And they had no idea that they were gawky, half feathered. They thought they were adult. As we had thought ourselves grown up. Yet it was only the mother hen who saw the circling hawk. Squawked, then they all had to dash for cover and for her.
This is the anniversary, then. You could never forget it, and it is forever pegged to Passover, to the run-up to Passover. The time just before the frantic clean-up. The time when all kinds of hope and fear and memory grow out of proportion.
I remember a very young Mary, all righteousness and fervour. A slightly sullen Martha, the insult about not remembering, no, not choosing the best thing as yet not wholly forgotten or forgiven. A very very young Lazarus, still a boy really.
I remember my fury with Jesus for not saving Laz, the worse because he had saved so many others, not dear to me at all. Martha being even more sullen. And Laz, well, Laz as a burden on our hearts, as a huge pain somewhere about my diaphragm.
Then, Jesus arriving, and his sitting weeping. And if he had been Laz, I could have gathered him in my arms, but of course I could not. Not touch him. A man and a rabbi and no blood relation at all. And to be honest, I only wanted to comfort him so much, and no more. Yet I felt for him some, and at last, I said “I am sorry. I am sorry that I thought you did not care.” And his lifting blurred eyes to me, and looking at me as if what I said did not even make the most formal sense. As if there would never be comfort in the world for him again.
Then the amazing trip to the tombside. Jesus standing sobbing again. And the words, and Laz staggering out, and the amazement as the smell fell off with the bandages, and the joy.
And a few days later, the dinner. The men all lying dining, Laz one of them. The joy was still flooding me. Because now it was all over. Lazarus was not just alive, but well. He lay at table with the others, taking his place as a man among men. And the women all serving, so gladly. And then my knowing I wanted to do something more, something special.
Fetching the most valuable thing I had. That pot of nard. Breaking it open. Scent and gladness. And pouring it over Jesus’s feet, because I could never do enough. It was not enough to pour it on his head. His very feet were holy.
Oh yes, I saw the looks, heard the muttering, knew using my hair was so so shocking. I did it to shock, if you have been wondering. Rejoiced in the looks.
And now, I sit in the doorway, and look at the chicken and the hawk. I never saw the hawk. But ever since that Passover, I have known how I helped to draw the hawk down on Jesus.
Now, I am an old woman. Astonishing. I creak when I sit in the doorway. I creak when I rise up from sitting, too. And I sit and think. So. This. It does not matter that I drew the hawk down with a lure as men do. Because there is a price for everything. The love of man and woman brings the child. Brings labour and pain and blood and, if you are lucky, brings a live child. And the child brings pain, too. And grows, and brings more pain. I remember one of Jesus’s stories, and I think of a rich man, so desperate for his son’s love, he would lose his dignity and run to greet him.
I am making a bad job of this. I don’t know how it all works, not really. But I do know that lies, and cruelty and misery and the rich paying a pittance for the work of the poor, and the poor always hungry and desperate – I know these things have to be both forgiven and also put right. I remember the song Jesus’s mother had made, and taught us.
That is what brings the hawk. Every time you put the big ones out of their seats. Every time you fill the poor with good things. And now I realise that when Jesus raised my brother, he chose to call the hawk down on himself. He alone was the grown-up that day. And in all our wild joy, we did not see the cost of what he did. He did not weep for Lazarus dead. He wept for Lazarus living.