Down through the tomb’s inward arch
He shouldered out into Limbo to gather them,
dazed, from dreamless slumber:
the merciful dead, the prophets, the innocents and those unnumbered others waiting unaware, in an endless void He is now ending, stooping to tug at their hands, to pull them from their sarcophagi, dazzled, almost unwilling.
Didymas, his neighbor in death, Golgotha dust still streaked
on the dried sweat of his body no one had washed and anointed, is here.
All these He will swiftly lead to the Paradise road: they are safe.
That done, there must take place that struggle no human presumes to picture: living, dying, descending to rescue from the shadows, more travails than this: to break through earth and stone of the faithless world back to the cold sepulchre, with the tearstained stifling shroud; to break back into breath and heartbeat and walk the world again, closed into days and weeks again, wounds of His anguish open, and Spirit streaming through every cell of flesh so that if mortal sight could bear to perceive it, it would be seen that His mortal flesh was lit from within, now and aching for home.
He must return, first, patiently, to know hunger again, and give to humble friends the joy of giving Him food—fish and a honeycomb.
(adapted from a poem by Denise Levertov (1923–1997)
Christ too suffered for our sins once and for all, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God; put to death in the body, he was brought to life in the spirit. In the spirit also he went and made his proclamation to the imprisoned spirits…
1 Peter 3:18-19