Standing in this graveyard, watching this mess of smelly rags make its way toward me, I can't help feeling a bit spooked.
"Oh Lord," I wonder, "what have I just gotten myself into?"
Don't be scared, I tell myself. Like them, you took a risk. And you got what you wanted. Right?
Yes, I did. And it's more than I bargained for.
Like a normal man he strides forward, a bit frayed at the edges and in need of a good pair of shoes. He seems a bit perplexed. Can he see us? He must. Does he understand?
I can almost see the fumes emanating from the creases of his bandages as he nears, fragrant with the stench of death. Total shock has left me paralyzed. I can barely believe it.
He's breathing hard, proving that there's actually a face beneath that cloth. I wonder what it looks like.
"Mmm," I hear him mumble. "Mmm... mmm."
He seems to be trying to say something. In horror I see him reach a swathed hand towards me.
"Mmm," he mumbles.
All I can say is, "Um... um..."
I throw sis a pleading glance. Her vacant eyes, as stunned as mine, offer no clues. Not knowing what to do, I redirect my gaze toward our fearless leader. He shakes his head at me, as if the answer's a no-brainer.
"Well, what are you waiting for? Unwrap him."
My heart skips a beat. Is he serious? Does he really expect us to undo this germy garb, this bubonic plague just waiting to happen? Then again, we've come this far. We may as well complete the job.
Oh God, why me?
Sis has already begun unraveling his right hand. Emboldened by her courage, I touch a finger to the filthy rag enveloping his left wrist.
"See? It's not so bad," she nervously exhorts. "Go ahead."
Cautiously I peel back the strip of cloth.
"I told you it wouldn't kill you," says sis with a nod my direction.
Oh yeah? I think. This will be the death of me yet.
"Underneath there lies a human being just like you," she adds.
I know, and that's the scary part. I wonder if I'll live to survive this ordeal.
Soon I've worked my way down to the skin, which is black as coal. Yet amazingly, as I watch, it turns the color of true flesh.
Wow! Wish I could see the same transformation with my tarnished reputation. Sadly, no matter how I've tried to cover all my so-called "secret sins", they keep coming back to haunt me. It's like a nonstop nightmare, the sort that makes you want to crawl under a rock - and stay there.
Soon our mummy's arms are all unwrapped. I guess we'll tackle the chest next - if only our "patient" would cooperate. Unfortunately, he has other plans.
"Mmm... mmm," he mumbles, pointing to his neck.
It occurs to us he might be having a little trouble breathing.
Oh dear. We can't let him suffocate now, can we? Even if freeing him means exposing ourselves to a potentially fatal brand of halitosis.
We know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.
Gingerly we set ourselves to the task of removing the napkin as instructed, hoping against hope the smell doesn't asphyxiate us. As I help unmask this man, I count the cost of unmasking my own identity. I know I'll have to do it sooner or later, because it's what I'm called to do. It's the how, when, and where that gets me.
I hope I don't end up having to barge into a room full of men, unannounced and undesired. It would be so embarrassing! I could end up being totally rejected and cast out, buried under a pile of accusing stones, each one harder than the rock that blocked the entrance to my brother Lazarus's tomb.
Soon he's stepping from his bonds a free man. But what about me, Mary?
I can still hear the Master's words ringing in my ears.
"Didn't I tell you you'd see the glory of God if you'd only just believe?"
I can't help thinking about that precious ointment I have saved to pour upon His feet, preparing Him for burial.
It's sure to be the death of me, but somehow I think it's worth the risk.
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