“Go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”
And where is Galilee?
Galilee is where it all began. The calling. The healings. The teaching. The small towns full of hungry, hurting people. The crowds. Controversy. Feeding. Misunderstanding. Clueless disciples. Smart demons. “Galilee” is where life is lived. Whatever he was and wherever he came from, Jesus of Nazareth joined the human race in its everyday life of growling stomachs and dead children and quarrels. And it is right back to Galilee that the risen Jesus returns.
You will notice of course, that Mark’s story of the resurrection is not what you sometimes hear, and lacks some of the elements we’ve come to expect. No conventional angels here with bright wings. No long and moving story of Mary Magdalene and him whom she supposed to be the gardener. No appearances of the risen Christ. Only a declaration that he has been raised and two promises—that he is going ahead and that they shall see him in Galilee. Was it the messenger in the tomb that affrighted the women so? Or the message? Or the peculiar absence of the corpse whom they sought? We only know that they ran from the tomb and told no one anything.
End of Mark, but not end of story. Galilee is still there, not only as beautiful real estate on the rim of the Sea by that name, but as a place in your life. Galilee of the Nations, the place where the crowded ways of life cross, the intersection of all sorts of journeys. Galilee is where you live. Galilee is in your heart. And if you would discover the timeless Christ, the Author of life and the ground of Being, you will discover him in the thick of your life.
Is there no other option? Can we not wait at the tomb and hope that somehow he will appear? Can’t we look backward into the past and do our best to recover the faith of a prior generation and claim that as our own? Can’t we take a course in God and become mystical or find him with crystals or incantations? Try. But I think you’ll find that the Risen One will most likely show up in the details of your life. It is precisely where you hurt, where you resist growth, where you are whiplashed in controversy, where you are passionate, where your heart leads you, what moves you to tears, what causes you to roll on the floor laughing, what excites you and what takes your breath away—those things are the Galilee where you will see him.
Maybe you are thinking just for a split second that, if that is the message, you might just turn and run from it, so frighteningly mundane it sounds. We frequently believe that the spiritual life must be something special, so out-of-the-ordinary that we could not possibly find it where we are. So we suppose that, if we are working in a law office in Washington, we should resign and go feed the poor. Or the monk in the monastery imagines that Christ is more really to be found among the homeless. Changing the set is never the issue. Nor, for that matter, is changing one’s mind. It is a matter of going to Galilee as agenda-free as possible. You have no idea where Christ is going to appear, nor how that appearance might change you, nor where the encounter might take you or send you.
But the Galilee to which he has gone ahead is whatever is going on in your life. If you need to change, you will know. If you need simply to speak your truth, you will know. If you need to struggle with the pit of uncomfortable truth in the middle of your soul, you will know that too. Learn to listen to your life. Whatever it turns up, pay attention. For there in Galilee you will see him, as he promised.
© Frank Gasque Dunn, 2015