Lazarus in two parts: Part II – Was it Lazarus slumped in the closet?

I did not mention in Part that I have been to Lazarus’ cave.  It is actually quite close to where I live now.  Lazarus’ cave is an apartment one floor directly below where I used to live on Wellington Ave.  Chantal and I were caretakers for that apartment block.  I did not know Lazarus well having only passed him on the stairs a few times.  But I came to realize that something was happening in his life, that he was falling ill.  Things were not good and people were coming by and asking about him out of concern.  One day myself and the superintendent for the apartments (our block was part of a larger church housing project) stopped to talk with him.  After our meeting we became concerned about what he might do to himself.  The superintendent went back and talked with him and then she left.  About four days later around midnight I received a knock on my door asking if I had keys to Lazarus’ apartment.  It was the police.  I did not have keys so I called the superintendent and she came.  We gathered in front of Lazarus’ cave.  The apartment building was small and so there was no real hallway only a square space where four apartment doors were located on each floor.  Gathered in that space was Chantal and I and the superintendent, two police officers, Lazarus’ brother-in-law and Lazarus’ daughter.  At this point my memory becomes hazy in detail but almost infinitely pronounced in impression.  As the door was opened I remember only two things and they filled the physical space and they filled all of my own humanity.  I remember the smell.  And I remember the scream of Lazarus’ daughter as she collapsed on the ground.  Both the smell and the scream were utterly and profoundly devastating.

If this was Lazarus’ cave, as I believe it was, then where was Jesus?  Was it Lazarus’ daughter who screamed in pure agony over the loss of her father?  Was it Lazarus’ brother-in-law who went into the stench of death to identify Lazarus?  Was it Lazarus himself slumped in the closet who may have whispered the words, my God, my God why have you forsaken me, before the towel tightened around his neck?  Was I Jesus in the way I lived almost indifferently to Lazarus in those four days knowing later that perhaps I could have done something differently?  Or was Jesus simply not there?  I don’t know.  All of the answers are perhaps true and terrible in their own way.  What I know is that this experience, especially Lazarus’ daughter, helped me to understand what that polite and passive phrase ‘deeply moved’ means when it comes to Jesus’ experience.  What I also know is that there was no voice calling Lazarus out of his tomb.


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