The words "empty tomb" may readily bring to mind the Christian story of Jesus and his resurrection. For believers, it is a reason for celebration. They live in the hope that someday they too will rise to eternal life... not today though, not now. But for those who answer the call and retreat inwardly to explore the wilderness of their spirits and reflect on the story of Jesus far away from the edifices of inherited teachings and traditions, the empty tomb carries an entirely different meaning. They shut their ears to the deafening noise of dogma and ideology and enter into a timeless, ever-burning silence that is hidden from the world. In the furnace of that silence a certain sacred knowledge is forged that is stronger than any element. No matter how eloquent language may be, words can never convey that significance and strength to those who have never dared to take leave of their comfortable abodes and temples cluttered with icons and furnishings fashioned by the hands of strangers from another time, another place.
What drives one to venture into that inner wilderness, to take that solitary trek into the nocturnal desert of one's being and to abandon all that is known and all that has been erected by previous generations? It is a mystery indeed, though it may have something to do with an undying, all-consuming need to reconcile the inner and outer worlds and to live at the crossroads. Many of those who venture out into the desert of their spirits never find their way back. These become sometimes disfigured by their darkness and are considered criminals and madmen in the world. They disappear forever into the darkness of their night and are like seeds scattered upon the rocks by the sower. But those who return, after having been baptized by their own solitude, are called sages. For in the midst of their dark and solitary night, they are gripped by a deep mystery which the light of the world can never reveal. Sages are not those who have perfected meditation over a lifetime or have developed some superhuman feat through constant practice. This is the image that the world would press upon them for easy consumption. Rather sages are molded by a certain quality that escapes any efforts to measure it. For one, sages are truly lovers who come to recognize that ever-present, inner flame of innocence within and return to the world because of their need to reconcile both to each other. That fervent desire becomes their passion, even unto death. Their solitude is simultaneously their burden and ecstacy and they carry it like an invisible cross on their backs through every station of their lives. And strangely, it sustains them.
Paradoxically, sages are intensely present and yet completely vacant. They are present insofar as they are sensitive to life with all of its pain and beauty, misery and joy. They touch every key in the entire range of the human scale; however they are absent from the world that constantly belittles, fears, and shuns the light rippling through the crevices of their inner being. As such, the world does not care for them; it does not even recognize them and sometimes fears them, condemning them to death. They have no meaning in the world, no position, no goals, aspirations or ambitions. They can be blown about like a reed in the wind, without resistance. The doors and windows of their homes are wide open where the air may freely circulate. There is no one home and yet they are quite present. They possess nothing. Thieves have no interest in them and neither do the tax collectors nor the authorities. Sages live and move about openly and yet they are paradoxically hidden from view because the world does not have the eyes to perceive them. They are in a certain sense dead and yet their tomb is empty.