We’re told that her mother and father where there, and so probably were the neighbours and her school friends, no doubt, and pretty well anyone who cared for the little girl.
She had been laying there dead for some time when this man came in and looked down at her and took her by the cold hand and said what he did.
It was the sort of thing that would make anyone seem as crazy as the Mad Hatter.
We don’t know exactly how he said it, if he had glassy eyes or if spoke in a whisper, or more. But this is what he said: ‘talitha cumi.’ That is, ‘little girl, get up.’
Because the child, he said, wasn’t dead at all, just asleep. And even though she was, in fact, very dead and very cold, she somehow felt the warmth of his hand when he touched her. And then she got up.
This is what he says to any of us. Wake up. Little girl, wake up. Old man, wake up, you, in the corner trying to hide in the shadows. Get up and get on it with it, with your life, your real life.
This, from this man who claimed to be more than a man, who claimed to be God, really, and then put his money where his mouth was.
It comes to mind because of a friend of ours, young Timothy Mugisha, a very fine and dear Ugandan, who is not well. A post on Timothy – he used to play hockey with us behind our Ugandan home – was put up here earlier this year. Timothy has cancer.
Today he was laying in a Ugandan hospital, on, of all days, his 15th birthday.
A few days ago, when he was admitted, he lamented his own vanishing life. “The truth is I am dying,” he said.
The truth is we are all dying.
But what if?
What if death is not any more permanent than putting on your night clothes and laying down and closing your eyes until morning?
Now if you are one to pray, then pray. And if you are not one to pray, then pray in whatever mumbling you can muster. This is a gift that you can young Timothy on this, his day.
Pray that his birth and his entire life, really, would continue to be remembered with joy. Today. And tomorrow. And until he falls into that sleep that somehow has to be a whole lot more.