faith · Poetry · Songwriting

It’s Show Not Tell – Again

It’s Show Not Tell – Again

Today is the feast day of Saint John the evangelist.

The Gospel reading set for today is from the end of John’s Gospel:

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 

So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’ 

Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 

He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 

Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 

Then the other disciple who reached the tomb first, also went in, and saw and believed.

In the songs that I’ve been writing in the last few years, I have been aware of the power of ‘Show not Tell.’ It seems to me that in poetry and in songwriting, often it’s the less you say, the more you tell. 

John’s Gospel is the most poetic of the four Gospels, and in this sparse retelling of the discovery of the empty tomb, much is left to our imagination.

We understand that the ‘disciple whom Jesus loved’ is John, but he is not named here. Perhaps we can imagine that by not naming him, it leaves the possibility for us to be a part of the retelling?

Can I, in my imagination, be that unnamed disciple ? What do I see as I look into the tomb ?

All we are told is that he ‘saw and believed.’ This is the ultimate ‘Show not tell’

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