They came back every year to this same spot, not to grieve, as some would suppose, but to remember life and miracles and happiness.
That’s not to say they weren’t living or miracles still didn’t happen or they weren’t happy; they were. They could pick many spots of remembrance, but this is the one that was the origin of all their current experiences; the culmination of their hopes; this place of hope-filled tragedy.
The spot itself wasn’t one of beauty. It was downright ugly. Barren. Broken. Bereft. Even the plants seemed dejected; barely holding on to their wind-swept piece of ground. No songbirds sang here, but there were plenty of scavengers: rats and vultures and beetles.
Except for one red-stained area where life couldn’t help but grow. This area was profuse in plant life; the birds seemed to compete over who could build their nests in the bushes that sprung up from nothing. Ground animals made their homes there. The wooden structure that was there was long gone; but nature remembered.
But they loved this place.
Their conversation was still reverent; they were still in awe. They would point to various landmarks surrounding them and say “that’s where he fell...” or “remember the soldier that was standing there?”
Their conversation also meandered to distant landmarks that surrounded the hill they stood on: “remember the storm? I’d never seen such a storm before or since!”
And finally, their conversation always went inward after a time.
“My life has never been the same. Such love on that day!”
“Mine neither. If you would have told me 10 years ago that I’d be standing here and talking about these things, I would’ve said you were crazy!”
They held hands now, these friendships forged in wonder; in love; in divine purpose. One person, usually Mary, would start humming a tune and the others would join in. The hums would become words and the words would take on an other-worldly quality; their voices lifting them to a place of holiness, of deeper reverence than what their physical bodies felt, heard, or saw.
They rarely talked about the pain of this place. The pain was forgotten - replaced with the overwhelming joy and excitement of what happened days later.
And they were thankful. For this place was the place where their wrongs were made right; where they witnessed evil defeated in the world and in their lives; where the barriers to the afterlife were forever removed; where hope and faith and love were embodied in one man.
They had to tell others. Good news should always be shared.
They looked at each other, hugs of joy and laughter and wonder consumed them.
“Thank you, Papa...” was heard frequently as they left this place. This place called The Skull, Golgotha, Calvary.
And as they left, they were very aware of the unseen person in their midst: their uniter, their comforter, their teacher, their guide. And joy rose in their hearts once again because of the awareness of his presence.
And they went back to their lives as seed-planters and harvesters, wondering as they went “who else will be added to our number before we meet here again?” And they were strengthened.