She Said...He Said

Heidi and Professor Snyder come to discover new meaning in the Resurrection

[Heidi, a college student, comes to the office of her academic advisor, Dr. Snyder, to get one final signature to complete her registration. They are good friends.]

Heidi: I've got my registration finished, Professor Snyder. It's done correctly. I know what I want— the courses, I mean, [arrogantly] I don't care what you say, I don't care what the registrar says, I don't care what anybody says—I know what I want to take.

Dr. Snyder: Look out, world!

Heidi: I'm serious—I know exactly what I'm doing.

Dr. Snyder: Take your aggressive pill this morning, or what? And by the way, what are you taking? Principles of Feminism? Bet you already had that—

Heidi: You're all alike, aren't you? Every last one of you—

Dr. Snyder: Men?

Heidi: Yeah, men. Why are men are so scared to death of women who know what they want?

Dr. Snyder: I don't know that they—

Heidi: You ever notice that? Men love women that are all cutsey and sweet: "Yes, dear," "Yes, honey," "What can I get you, honeybun?" They like to be fawned over, mothered. Bring on a woman who knows what she wants, and they clear the room.

Dr. Snyder: What can I say?

Heidi: I'm proud to be a woman. Go read the Easter story again, and see what you find: Jesus chose to to appear first not to Peter, not to John, not to any of his sleepyhead disciples, all of them men—but to Mary Magdalene, a woman.

Dr. Snyder: It's a matter of record.

Heidi: What's more, she was the first to the tomb. She was the one with all the ointments—tell me, do men ever think of things like that? And how about Peter, the great Peter, the tough-guy disciple who slashes off a man's ear—that's real macho, isn't it? But where was Peter the Great in the dark of that first Easter morning? It was women who were out there. They went to the cemetery even before the sun was up, Dr. Snyder—the women went to the tomb in the dark to cry over the body of Jesus. You know where the men were?

Dr. Snyder: I don't know.

Heidi: Probably sitting in some apartment watching the Final Four.

Dr. Snyder: Heidi, you're going too far here—

Heidi: No, I'm not. I think someone really official ought to name the wee!;"'after Easter "Mary Magdalene Week."

Dr. Snyder: Because she was the first to the tomb?

Heidi: Because she was willing to cry over Jesus Christ's dead body, because she got up before the sun, because she was really the first person ever to worship on Sunday—

Dr. Snyder: She was?

Heidi: Think of it. Nobody else ever worshiped Christ on a Sunday morning. The Jews practiced their faith on the Sabbath—on Saturday. Mary was the first Sunday worshiper of all time, and most people don't even care, don't even think about the fact that she was a woman. They'd rather not think about it.

Dr. Snyder: I guess you're right.

Heidi: Christ went to her first—he chose to reveal his resurrected body to a woman. Don't forget that.

Dr. Snyder: [mocking slightly] What I want to know is, is all of this going to be on the test?

Heidi: Well, don't you think I'm right?

Dr. Snyder: About Mary Magdalene?

Heidi: About Mary Magdalene. And then there's this too. When Jesus comes up behind her, she thinks he's the gardener, see; and when he asks her what she's searching for, you know what she says—

Dr. Snyder: Something like, "They have taken away my Lord, and I don't know where they've laid him."

Heidi: [waits] And then—

Dr. Snyder: What do you mean, "and then"? That's the story.

Heidi: That's not the whole story. Men only read what they want to read. That's a problem, you know. There's more.

Dr. Snyder: More?

Heidi: Mary Magdalene looks him right into his face and she says, [pointing] "Tell me where they have taken him, and I'll go get him." [reflects proudly] I love that.

Dr. Snyder: Scary.

Heidi: See—men are afraid of women with an attitude.

Dr. Snyder: Okay, Gloria Steinem. Time for me to pin back your ears. Remove all sharp objects from your hands, please, and promise not to kick or claw. I'm about to slay you.

Heidi: What do you mean?

Dr. Snyder: You want to know why Christ came to Mary first? Because she was bawling. She was crying—typical woman.

Heidi: At least we have feelings.

Dr. Snyder: What? Men don't? The minute she tells Peter and John the tomb is empty, they have a footrace to get back there—

Heidi: But you didn't see any tears. And besides, what happens when they see the sheets folded up and the tomb empty? They go back to their apartment and create a committee to plan strategy or something else really male. Christ doesn't even go there—he goes to the one who most needed him right then and there—Mary.

Dr. Snyder: I like that.

Heidi: What do you mean?

Dr. Snyder: I like what you said. "Jesus Christ chose to appear to the human being who most needed him." I think that's wonderful. That's really reassuring, isn't it? It's almost a sermon. But one more thing, Heidi. Answer me this—who did Mary go to see at the tomb that first Sunday morning?

Heidi: This is a trick question, right?

Dr. Snyder: No trick question—answer me.

Heidi: Why, Jesus, of course.

Dr. Snyder: So far, so good. And what did she think when she found the stone rolled away?

Heidi: She thought someone had taken the body away.

Dr. Snyder: That's right. Exactly right. And when she saw the angels, did she recognize them as angels— even after they told her that she wouldn't find the body around there?

Heidi: [slightly hesitant] No.

Dr. Snyder: And then, even though she goes to the tomb to find Jesus, even though she doesn't find him, even though she is told she won't find him there, and even though when she turns around, the very person she's searching for says "Who are you searching for?"—she thinks he's the gardener.

Heidi: What are you saying? Women are clueless?

Dr. Snyder: No, silly. That's not the point. The point is she didn't even recognize Christ when he stood right there in front of her face.

Heidi: Well, he must have looked different.

Dr. Snyder: Of course he looked different. The last time she'd seen him, he'd been dead, remember. Very dead. The last time she'd seen his body it must have been gray and bloody and awful. The gardener was the resurrected Christ.

Heidi: So who can blame her? When Christ appears with those two disciples while they're on the road to Emmaus, they don't recognize him either—and at least one of them was a man.

Dr. Snyder: Exactly.

Heidi: I'm missing something here. You can't say Mary is dumb for not recognizing him right away—neither did the men.

Dr. Snyder: Neither did the men—you're right.

Heidi: Nobody recognized him.

Dr. Snyder: Right.

Heidi: So nobody's to blame.

Dr. Snyder: We're all to blame.

Heidi: You're speaking in parables, Dr. Snyder.

Dr. Snyder: We're all clueless.

Heidi: I don't get it.

Dr. Snyder: How about this, Heidi, so incredibly sure of what courses she wants to take next semester. If you and your sidekicks had been out in the cemetery that first Easter morning, do you think you would have recognized Jesus Christ?

Heidi: [slightly uncomfortable] I don't know.

Dr. Snyder: Did he tell them—the disciples and Mary and the whole bunch of them? Did he tell them he was going to die and be raised again?

Heidi: Yes, of course, he did—in a way.

Dr. Snyder: But they didn't recognize him, did they?

Heidi: That's right. Because they didn't really believe him.

Dr. Snyder: That's right. End of lesson. Now let me sign your registration sheet and get on with life—

Heidi: Wait a minute, wait a minute. There's more to this. I'm not getting the story or something. They didn't recognize him because they really didn't believe that he would do what he did, what he said he'd do—rise from the dead.

Dr. Snyder: He'd given them clues, but they were clueless. We would have been too, Heidi. You and me and the best wizards on campus—everybody would have missed the point.

Heidi: Why?

Dr. Snyder: Because Easter is so big and shocking, so huge, so monumental, so overwhelming, so overpowering—it's so much a miracle. On Easter, Christ fought a battle that makes D day look like a birthday party. Jesus Christ lugged all our sins on his shoulders, bled and died for us, and came up the only real world champion. One man, the Son of God, blew away death—a whole lot worse villain than Darth Vader—just blew it away.

Heidi: None of us really get it, do we? Not me or you or Mary Magdalene?

Dr. Snyder: Not all of it—it's too big. None of us really catch it all, Heidi.

Heidi: But he loves us anyway, doesn't he? Even though we're all meatheads, filled to the brim with getting our needs met.

Dr. Snyder: Isn't that something?

Heidi: That's a miracle too—

Dr. Snyder: Greatest miracle of all—that he went through what he went through for people who most all the time just don't get it.

Heidi: So what do we do?

Dr. Snyder: We sign up for courses, we brush our teeth in the morning, we eat breakfast, we start a new day—we keep on living—that's what he wants us to do.

Heidi: But we can't forget?

Dr. Snyder: That's why what we celebrated last week is like an all-year sucker. Up from the grave he arose—it just stays in you all year long. It's a big, big deal—the biggest deal ever. Nothing's bigger.

Heidi: That she didn't know, Dr. Snyder—Mary Magdalene, I mean—you really can't blame her.

Dr. Snyder: You're missing the last part of the story, you know.

Heidi: What do you mean?

Dr. Snyder: She goes back to the disciples, snaps off the television, stands there in front of all those guys, you know—this woman—and she says with all the guts and joy and happiness she can muster, "He is risen."

Heidi: I like that.

Dr. Snyder: Somehow, I thought you would.

Heidi: [waits] But that's the whole story, isn't it?—He is risen.

Dr. Snyder: That's every bit of it. That's the whole thing.

James Calvin Schaap (jschaap@dordt.edu) is a writer and professor of English at Dordt College, Sioux Center, Iowa.