For Christians, this week ending with Easter on Sunday is called Holy Week (which I learned just a few short years ago, go figure). Here is a reflection I wrote for the day after Jesus was hung on the cross and before anyone had any inkling of what was to come.
In Matthew, Jesus appears to Mary; she mistakes him as a gardener. The disciples, while fishing, encounter a man, but do not know him as Jesus until he performs a miracle. In Luke, there is the story of Jesus eating with his followers, demonstrating his flesh and bone reality, not some spiritual haunting or hallucination. In John’s Gospel, there is the story of doubting Thomas, who cannot trust the senses of his eyes, and must touch Jesus’ wounds.
I reflect on that time of bone-deep sorrow: what it must have been like to lose your savior, to lose the one to whom you had given your heart and your hope. They had their eyesight, but couldn’t see him. They had their hearing, but could not always discern the voice of their Beloved.
There are limits to our senses. Then, as now.
Science tells us that there are creatures, so-called lesser on a scale that places humanity toward the top, which can discern colors unavailable to human sight. The human eye contains three color cones, allowing us to see seven colors in the rainbow. A sparrow also has three, but its sense of red is sharper, so its rainbow starts before and ends after the one we see. Butterflies? Five or six of these color receptors. The strange sea creature called the mantis shrimp? Sixteen.
We can see a rainbow. Yet what is out there, beyond our perception, is much wider and much richer than what we perceive. Let this be the comfort and wisdom of Holy Saturday.