Finding the Miracle of Easter

One year I visited the Holy Land with a burning desire to walk the paths where the Savior walked. I was studying the Old and New Testament and felt drawn to Israel in a youthful search for deeper spirituality. During the week I was a volunteer at an archaeological dig in the Negev desert. On weekends, I traveled Israel discovering the sights I’d only read about in the Bible.

Even though it has been decades since that trip, each Easter I recall the specific moment when the whole world became my garden. Let me tell you how it happened. One weekend, I spent the day at the Wailing Wall and in the crowded markets of Old Jerusalem. I was hot, tired, hungry and didn’t look forward to going back to sleep at the youth hostel where I was staying because it was filthy and dark. I longed for a place to think, to gather my disappointed desires and try to make sense of why I came here.

I remember walking through Damascus Gate, crossing the road and hiking uphill. That is when I found it - an oasis in this sea of chaos – the Garden Tomb. I stepped inside and sighed. This quiet secluded walled in Garden was filled with ancient trees that created welcome shade as they swayed in the late afternoon breeze. Multi-colored flowers lined the walkways. I took my time exploring. When I found the tomb, carved from the stone hillside in one section of the garden, I bowed and looked inside. The cold cavern was empty. A sudden electric full body and soul reverence ran down my spine as I contemplated what had happened in this place. I stepped back in wonder. Still visible were the grooves where a large stone was once rolled in front. I never wanted to leave.

Later I climbed a hill in back of the garden and looked toward Golgotha where Jesus is said to have been crucified. That is when I heard the stark noises of heavy traffic, shouts of angry bus drivers and smelled exhaust fumes in the air. The abrupt contrast was disappointing. Even here in this holy place there was no lasting peace. I walked back into the garden and sat down on a bench to think. Before I came to Israel I didn’t know every significant event in the life of Christ had several sites claiming to be the real place where the occurrence took place. I felt disillusioned and disappointed. Why did something so significant have to be so confusing and commercial?

Then I glanced up and noticed the sun slowly slipping into the horizon. Quite unexpectedly a sudden shimmering golden glow cast a heavenly light on everything around me transforming the garden into a dreamlike state. It took my breath away. Then, just as suddenly, the light was gone, the air grew cold and shadows inched across the garden floor. An unexpected gust of wind sent leaves twirling to the ground. The day was ending.

I wrapped my arms around me and took a deep cleansing breath. Then, as if I was awakening from a deep sleep, I perceived a divine pattern . . . light and dark . . . winter and spring . . . morning and night . . . birth and death. I understood that even as this day was ending, another would begin at dawn. Even though the leaves were falling, they would form the earth through which new life would emerge next spring. I would die; yet I would live. That is the moment when I realized it wasn’t the site that was important but the event that took place there.

Jesus Christ is my Savior. The Resurrection is real.

That was the moment when I understood that whether I was in the Garden Tomb in Israel - or in my own back yard – the miracle of Easter was going on everywhere around and inside me every day. The whole earth was indeed holy land - a witness of God’s great love for all of us. Now each spring as we celebrate Easter my thoughts return to the Garden Tomb and the gentle awakening I experienced there. We don’t need to be in the Holy Land to experience the significance of what took place there. The miracles of Easter are manifest all around us every day - and most wonderfully, within ourselves.