Monday, November 14, 2011

Only One Evening

 “He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.” (Matthew 27:58-60)

“And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.” (John 19: 39, 40)

It was a tiny little body, easily fitting into the palm of my hand.  He wasn’t as tall as my cup of coffee and weighed only three ounces.  And he was perfect. 

Perfect miniscule fingers, perfect tiny toes, beautiful little lips, flawless miniature eyelids. . . every detail present and perfect.  Except that those little lungs would never breathe the smell of a rose or freshly cut grass.  The little hands would never throw a baseball or bounce a basketball.  The little feet would never be tickled or run around bases.  The eyelids would never flicker in sleep.  The eyelids of this little boy only knew the sleep of death. 

I cradled his perfect little lifeless body in my one hand as I washed it with baby bath, to give him the “baby smell” mothers love and babies aren’t born with.  Then I carefully dried the fragile skin, lest it should tear from the effort of drying.

I took his tiny little feet and made footprints for his parents, little footprints only as big as the print of my little finger, as a remembrance that this child was.  I put footprints on handkerchiefs for the grandmothers who would always remember the grandson they could only hold for one evening.

I dressed him in the tiniest of day gowns and wrapped him in colorful baby blankets.  These tiny clothes and blankets are hand sewn by women of large hearts who themselves have had those hearts broken by loss.  They sew clothes for the babies of others, knowing from experience how much it means to have a baby – no matter how tiny – dressed like a baby.

Then it was time for pictures.  These would be the only portraits this child would ever have.  I would have to roll baby pictures, kindergarten graduation, high school and college graduation and wedding pictures all into these few pictures.  With each click of the shutter, I tried to make a memory for parents who would have none others.

When finished, it was time for our little baby to spend time with his family.  This would be their only time with their son, their grandson, nephew, cousin.  This would be the first and last time for them to love him.

When Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus took the body of Jesus, and prepared it for burial, they must have had much the same thoughts and feelings.  They must have believed that they would never again see, touch or hear the Lord Jesus.  With what great reverence, love and respect they must have applied the mixture of spices and wound linen cloth around His tortured body.  They  must have believed this was the last act of love they could do for their Savior.  Little did they understand that in three days their Savior would dispel the power of the grave and destroy the threat of death by rising from the dead.  

In doing so, He offers hope to all of us that, with the Apostle Paul, we may shout, “O death,where is thy sting?  O grave, where is thy victory?” (I Corinthians 15:55).

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