[Simon Peter] turned to the body and said, “Tabitha, get up.” Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up. He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive. – Acts of the Apostles 9:40b-41
Just a moment, now… what’s happening?
Someone is here – no one has been in here in quite some time.
I hear him breathing and… is that a murmured prayer?
I think I’ll let my eyes stay shut
and puzzle this thing out.
This doesn’t quite feel quite like my bed. That’s what
I last remember and – oh, my! – I felt so bad.
The aches, the failing strength, the fear.
I struggled so to breathe.
Who is this man beside my bed? It’s not
the doctor, sure. I know his sounds.
Why is there no one else?
What’s that I hear?
Beyond the door are quiet sobs, the kind
I’ve made when weeping had near run
its course, and the springs
of tears were running low.
That’s Martha’s weeping; that is Miriam’s.
Is Anna there? Joanna, too? The widows, then,
my friends. But why are they
not here, where this man is?
Could he be a physician, better than
the one I had? So it must be.
My breath is so much easier
than it had been. Oh, yes.
Oh, now. His murmuring, his prayer
has reached its end. Although my eyes
are shut I feel his gaze, and…
is that a smile I feel?
Then: “Tabitha, get up,” in soft
but roughened voice, as if
he was more used to shouts
above the roaring sea.
Just: “Tabitha, get up,” and so I might just choose
to let my eyelids rise – them first, you see –
and take a good long glance at this
more capable physician.
Yes: “Tabitha, get up,” but wait. Before I do,
with all my friends beyond the door,
one burning question to resolve:
What is this I’m wearing?
A poem/prayer based on Acts 9:36-43, the Revised Common Lectionary First Reading for Year C, Fourth Sunday of Easter.
The image is San Pietro resuscita Tabitha, Saint Peter Raises Tabitha, by Fabrizio Santafede (1611). Digital capture by Deca16894 – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=106100094.
Luke’s account of those attending the body of Tabitha lacks any names; I’ve used women’s names found in the New Testament for Tabitha’s friends. The story clearly states that Simon Peter asked everyone to leave him alone with her body. For whatever reason, the artists’ depictions of the scene routinely ignore this.