On the day after Easter morn, I came to the tomb-like structure of James Turrell’s Skyspace* early, while it was still dark.
I sat alone in that stone vault and watched as the ceiling hole-revealed sky slowly changed from dark to a brilliant white.
As it was a public holiday Monday, there was no noise outside except for the sound of rushing waters, the song of the landscaped waterfall surrounding this sepulchre.
I sat directly opposite the square portal through which I had entered, looking out into semi-darkness. I could imagine a breathless man stumbling to this doorway and pausing before he was brushed aside by an older man, breathing even more heavily, who would lurch into this space. They left my imagination to make way for another visitor, a young woman, whose approach was far more tentative …
As I left Skyspace in the clear light of day I recalled visiting only last year one of the tombs attributed (probably incorrectly) to the family of Agamemnon on the site of ancient Mycenae in Greece, a tomb built more than a millennium before the burial of our Lord on the day of his crucifixion. Elaborate tombs were required for the great ones. They would die without any confidence regarding a life after death to be spent in warm companionship with the Lord of all of creation. Did the kings of Mycenae fear death? Did they need to? Need you and I?
From the First Epistle of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians, chapter 15 (NIV) we read:
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true:
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
He is risen! Alleluia! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Alleluia!
*Skyspace is located in the grounds of the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.