Sisyphus does not usually tread the dusty streets of Jerusalem. He has never appeared in a Paschal reading, nor was he ever mentioned in an Easter sermon.

But this Easter, I thought of him. That ancient man of Grecian myth, forever doomed to roll the stone of his judgment up the hill, forever doomed to watch it slip from his grasp and tumble to the bottom, just as he struggled to reach the crest.

A man without hope. A man without a future.

I pictured him in my mind: hoary with the eternal passing of time, his back bent and hunched and broken from the weight of the stone. His hands roughened and bleeding from scraping against the unfeeling rock. His clothing torn, dirtied, bloodied. But most of all, his face. The helpless look of an immortal soul. The haunted, desperate emptiness in his eyes. Trapped. Voiceless. Hopeless.

Do you know that look? Have you felt that burning, aching pain?

I know that stone. I have rolled it before me, in different shapes and guises, many times. The stone is my sin. My judgment. The crushing weight of knowing that I failed ... failed my Lord and myself worse than I ever imagined possible. Failed repeatedly. Failed ignominiously. Failed completely.

I condemn myself to rolling that stone before me. I reproach myself day and night for the wickedness, ignorance, or willfulness which led me in the broad path of destruction. I curse my shortsightedness; my blindness.

And the longer I roll that stone before me, the deeper the hurts run.

I question my worth before God. My ability to accomplish anything for him. I doubt that I can make wise decisions ... or perhaps any decisions at all.

My days and nights run together in endless misery. Purpose is gone. Dreams are crushed. Hope is destroyed, trodden down beneath my aching feet.

I long to reach God. To come before him once again. So I push the stone before me ... inch by inch, punishing myself in order to appease what I believe to be his wrath, striving to gain in my own strength the right to stand before him.

And the stone slips.

I watch Sisyphus in my mind's eye. Watch as the stone rolls down the steep hill, gaining momentum as it goes.

His frame trembles with despair. His back, though temporarily not burdened, is still bent. His limbs are crooked from long days and nights, weeks and months, of straining against the stone. His crabbed figure, a tormented silhouette, begins its aching descent down the hill.

I feel for him. I feel with him. In that moment, I am he. I, too, have been grotesquely distorted and tortured by the weight of my sin and my condemnation.

I watch as he makes his painstaking way down the hill. Over grass he cannot feel, beneath a flaming sky he cannot see. For his eyes are blinded. Turned in. Sightless.

The ground levels out, and his breathing grows less hoarse. It is easy to follow the track of the stone ... a deep depression mars the way of its passing.

He stops suddenly, with a sharp intake of breath. The track terminates at the mouth of a cave. But the stone is so large, it could not have gone in it ... yet it is not there. His questioning gaze scans the surroundings uneasily.

And his eyes find the stone. Rolled to the side of the tomb.

The stone has been rolled away.

Rolled away, by a hand not his own.

Set to rest, by an authority above his own.

And a voice from behind him calls his name - my name - and I whirl with new strength and joy to see the One who has rolled away the stone.

© 2002 Paula Marolewski

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Author's Bio: 

Paula J. Marolewski provides challenging and interactive adult Bible studies for individuals, Bible studies, small groups, and adult Sunday School classes at Sink Your Roots (www.SinkYourRoots.com). Studies include such topics as Debunking the Myths about Knowing God's Will. The site also offers free weekly Seedlings - “Little thoughts that grow big results.”