Friday, April 23, 2010
Eurydice, talking rocks and the death of death
My husband and I just returned from watching a modern adaption of the Greek Tragedy Eurydice. Our grand son-in-law, Spencer Tregilgas, had one of the lead roles, he plays Orpheus. The play was excellent; Sarah Ruhl, who has adapted the play, created some interesting scenes and made a tragedy speak like a comedy. Talking rocks were substituted for the usual Greek chorus while the lord of the underworld rode around on a red tricycle blowing his silly whistle.
Tragedy or comedy, ancient or contemporary, my Christian faith silently cried out for joy as I watched. Faith answered the demands and mockings of the rocks who were certainly not from the streets of Jerusalem. They did not cry holy.
The demands of the rocks? The first one occurred when Eurydice entered the world of the dead, forgetting her own name, yet greeted by her father, he tried to explain that he was her father. “That name, father, is not known here,” the rocks mocked.
The language of the dead was silent and books were not allowed they insisted.
“The dead are only seen they are not heard,” they persisted.
“There are no rooms in the land of the dead.”
Ah, I thought of a throne where the Father and the Word, who is the Lion and the Lamb, exist in triumph. I thought of the one who “was dead” but is alive “forevermore.” He is the One who has “the keys of death and of Hades. Because of this he says, “Do not be afraid.”
I thought of those who have died a physical death, in the Lord, and how not only do they not forget their names but are given a new name. And something more, they have a promise from the Lord of life Jesus Christ:
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am there you may be also” (John 14:1-3).
What an amazing message the good news of Jesus life, death and resurrection must have been to so many ancient Greeks. What an amazing story it is for our secular contemporary society. Long ago, when my children were young, I had a neighborhood Good News Club. Then we told stories using flannel graph cutouts of biblical characters. I still remember one little boy who was close to tears when I talked about the death of Jesus. He had never heard that story before. But when I told about Jesus being resurrected, he nearly danced.
Greek stories are beautiful and full of pathos, but the true story is the one that ends with the One who was dead but is alive. The bright and morning Star who is seen but also speaks, he calls us home to himself.