Sunday, April 24, 2011

New Life

Once again it is very early and I am awake. It's OK though because when I wake up this early, I usually take time to think about things. This morning I thought about getting up but found myself looking at this beautiful picture which hangs on my wall next to my bed. The artist is Liz Lemon Swindle. I saw this artwork many years ago on display the morning after Thanksgiving when I was shopping with my girls. The artist was at a table outside an art gallery store. She was putting brushstrokes on this still wet painting. When I saw this painting for the first time, tears came to my eyes. I was so touched by it and the artist was looking at me as I was crying. When a print became available months later, I bought it. It is called "Why Weepest Thou?"
I love the way Mary looks so concerned and worried and overwhelmed in this picture. She doesn't know that the Savior is near her and that He has risen from the dead. She really has nothing to worry about and her grief is about to be turned to great joy. The angels had just asked her the first time she went to the tomb that morning with other devoted women, "Why seek ye the living among the dead?" Luke 24:5 Christ was not in the tomb and she was left to tell the apostles that He was gone. After returning to the tomb and finding herself alone with her grief, she was soon comforted by the news of that first Easter morning, Christ had risen from the dead.

Today I will go to church and celebrate the events of that Easter message. I look forward to that. 

As I looked at this picture this morning, I thought of my brother Rob. As mentioned before in my blog, he passed away 10 years ago. I remembered however Easter 1999 when he was still alive and I was with him. He had just had his bone marrow transplant about two weeks prior to that Easter morning. I had been staying/sleeping in his hospital room to help him through that awful time. I was there for nine days. Rob was so sick during that time and depression had taken a toll on him. He needed my help physically and mentally and his family needed the break. I remember that Easter morning in 1999 and the significance of what had happened that day.

I missed church that morning. It was probably the only Easter I ever missed church in my life. I felt bad about that but my brother needed me and I had no way to get to church. Late morning, Rob's doctor came in to see Rob. He had just come from church himself. He looked so happy. He came to tell my brother that he had just reviewed Rob's latest blood work. He told Rob that the bone marrow transplant was a success. Rob had the faintest glimmer of new life in his new marrow. He told him that new life giving and life sustaining cells were forming in his brand new marrow and that he believed Rob would be getting well. I remember vividly the look on that doctor's face. I remember how he told Rob that he thought it was so significant that on Easter, he was having the chance at a new birth so to speak, a new life. The doctor seemed so pleased and so touched by this news. Rob's leukemia was a particularly virulent kind called natural killer cell leukemia and this news was significant because he was the first known patient with this kind of leukemia to have received a bone marrow transplant for his condition. I remember having tears in my eyes and looking at the doctor and exchanging meaningful looks with him because of the significance of the news he was telling us that Easter morning. Rob was so, so sick that the news didn't really phase him that much. But I thought about it that day and what the term "new life" meant on that Easter day.

Rob lived another year and a half after that. The leukemia eventually came back and he passed on. He is buried in a lovely cemetery in Connecticut. I came across a scripture after he died that has meant a lot to me. “And the graves of the saints shall be opened; and they shall come forth and stand on the right hand of the Lamb, when he shall stand upon Mount Zion, and the holy city, the New Jerusalem; and they shall sing the song of the Lamb, day and night forever and ever.” D&C 133:56

Just as Mary looked in the tomb of Jesus and found that he was not there but was living, I believe that because of Christ and His resurrection that first Easter morning, my brother Rob will also be resurrected one day. We all will. When that happens, he will have new life yet again. That time however, he will never die again but will live forever. And I will get to see him again.
That's the message of Easter. Christ died for all of us. More importantly, He rose from the dead and lives and because of that most significant event in the history of mankind, we will all rise from the dead one day and have the opportunity to live forever. 

Job said it best in the Old Testament in the Bible, “And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” Job 19:26 That is the message of Easter, new life because of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Handel set these sentiments to music and they are wonderful.  

“O death, where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory?” (1Corinthians 15:55) “…the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised…” (1Corinthians 15:52) Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing... Blessing, and honour, glory and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. Amen. “(Revelation 5:12, 13) (Handel's Messiah)

Happy Easter.

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