It’s not yet breakfast and I catch Child #1. I bend over to her ear.
“I have a secret,” I say.
“What is it?” she says.
I whisper in her ear. “They’re everywhere.”
Shortly later, I do the same with Child #2, the boy. The same whisper in the ear. “They’re everywhere.”
And then Child #3. The whisper in her ear. “Where are they?” I ask. “They’re everywhere.”
The line is from the movie that we – the three children, their mother, me – watched the night before with our Canadian family visiting, the latest Joseph Fiennes movie, that has arrived even in theatres even in Africa (yes, there are some theatres in Uganda.
(If that name rings some bell, Fiennes was in one of Hollywood’s better love stories, yes, that Joseph Fiennes, of “Shakespeare in Love” renown, but now playing in Hollywood’s latest Biblical epic, “Risen,” as a Roman tribune, Clavius.)
He’s sent on a mission that he finds rather both onerous and impossible: to find the body of the just-crucified Nazarene, Jesus. The body, despite being very dead and despite being put very securely in a heavily-guarded tomb, is missing.
This is what we know.
Missing also – they have run in fear – are Jesus’ followers. They, naturally, are suspected, of stealing the body. This is what, according to history, are also the facts as we understand them.
From here, the movie, told through the eyes of Clavius, a fictitious character, begins. Find the disciples and find the body. This is what Clavius believes.
One disciple, Bartholomew, is discovered and brought to the Roman tribune. “Where are the other followers?” Clavius demands from the giddy young man.
Bartholomew approaches him with great care and whispers in his ear … “They’re everywhere.”
It’s a line that my children, (who covered their eyes for gory scenes here and there), will not forget soon (not if I keep whispering it in the ear, anyway).
And you may think what you will about this – about Jesus’ followers (not about gory movie scenes) – but this is really about something else.
Easter, after all, for all its Friday horror and its Sunday mystery (Clavius digs up all the corpses of recently-crucified Jews while searching for Jesus’ body), is still a love story as much as anything (at least if you believe in a loving God and in human beings that need love and forgiveness.)
It is very fitting, it seems to me, then, that such a story be told through the eyes and ears of a skeptic, a non-believer, one such human being who just wants to get on with the business of the day, and, in doing so, somehow eventually find the peace for which he is so desperately longing.
The problem for Clavius is not just that “they” are everywhere, but that “He” – the crucified Jesus – seems to be everywhere: in a locked upper room at one point, talking to strangers on an open road at another, on the seashore making breakfast …
And he is having trouble reconciling it all, reconciling what he knows to be the reality of death with what he has seen with his own eyes.
Chances are, you’ve already heard it all. (Or you’ve heard something, anyway.)
But if you are looking for a different perspective on the seemingly familiar, then, sure – grab a ticket and some popcorn, or keep an eye out later in post-theatre releases.
“Risen” is a murder-mystery as much as it’s that whisper-in-your-ear love story.
See Clavius. See the crucified Christ.
See, maybe, even, yourself.