An Interview with Lazarus

Of course, they all would ask him about it, after the event. What was it like, being dead? Lazarus would look at them with strange eyes. He would tell them, “I don’t know what I can say to you about that. I can tell you what it was like to come back.

“You know, when you wake up but your dreams carry on, so that you can’t move your arms or your legs? I couldn’t move my eyelashes, let alone open my eyes. My mouth was sealed, my nostrils stuffed up with stale, sour bandages. I could hear him calling, and I had to get out there, I had to reach him. They make it sound, in the stories, as though I lifted to my feet as though pulled by an invisible string, and shuffled, zombie-like, out of the cave – or perhaps even I flew!

“Nothing could be farther from the truth. I was wrapped as tightly as a swaddled newborn, and the best I could do was to roll and to squirm and to twist my way across the floor like a baby who has not yet learned how to crawl.

“I knew, though, when I reached the mouth of the cave, because I could feel the sun’s warmth, and hear the hissing breath of scores of men, and my sisters. I heard him again, telling them to unbind me, to set me free, and I have never been so grateful for the touch of a human hand.”

They would ask him, then, “What is it that you have the greatest need or desire to do before death claims you for good? What did you miss the first time around?”

Lazarus got a farway look in his eye. “I would awaken the sleepwalker, and unbind the eyes of the one who doesn’t see. I would loosen the shackles of those bound by sin, or by fear. I would seek out and untie the ones who walk as though they are dead, because I have walked in their graveclothes.”

His voice choked up, every time, and they would be afraid to ask him anything else.

 – As I have discovered, the Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon preached a rather marvellous sermon, in London, in 1884, about Jesus’ condescension to allow his disciples’ participation in such miracles as this one, and the unbinding of others.

About Rosalind C Hughes

Rosalind C Hughes is a priest and author living near the shores of Lake Erie. After growing up in England and Wales, and living briefly in Singapore, she is now settled in Ohio. She serves an Episcopal church just outside Cleveland. Rosalind is the author of A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing , and Whom Shall I Fear? Urgent Questions for Christians in an Age of Violence, both from Upper Room Books. She loves the lake, misses the ocean, and is finally coming to terms with snow.
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