If I show You,
if I show You where he is buried;
if I take that long, slow walk to his tomb again;
if I take that long, slow walk with You—
if we take that walk together, even though he’s four-days dead;
if I show You where he lies decayed,
What then?

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Go back and read it again. Slowly. As though it is so hard to express the thought you really want to ask that you have to preface it with several attempts. As though you can hardly get the words out. Because that’s really what you are wondering but it’s very hard to say, to admit that there’s really no hope. To admit that you feel that way.

This third part of the poem deals with the response I have when I put myself into the story being told in John 11 and when I bring the story into my own life. Jesus asks Martha, “Where have you laid him?” and she replies, “Come and see.”

That response makes sense within the moment. That’s what you do when the dearest friend couldn’t make it to the funeral of your brother but makes it to town 4 days later. You show him the grave. Maybe you pick up a bunch of flowers to lay at the grave, too. And you take a pile of tissues or a handkerchief because you know that the mourning is not over. In fact, you know that the grieving has just begun. You know that almost anything can set you off again, calling up memories that make you smile through your tears and wring your heart out through your smiles. You know that your younger sister is grieving deeply, too, and you try to be strong for her sake. One of you must be the sensible one that takes care of the details. But you and she both know that your lives will never be the same again.

But however normal Martha’s response may have been, as I read the story, as I think of the deaths (both physical and emotional) that I have mourned, my response is a bit different than Martha’s and Mary’s. As I find myself in their shoes, in their story and mine, I want to say to Him . . . very slowly . . . and in words that can hardly get past the tears . . . “What then?”

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