Plato describes how the prisoner who escapes from the darkness of the cave into the sunlight is at first dazzled by the unaccustomed brightness. Gradually his eyes adjust to it, but when he returns to the cave to rescue his fellows he must learn to see in darkness again.
In today’s gospel we read of how Mary Magdalene sees the risen Jesus but fails to recognise him. When he asks why she is weeping and who she is looking for, she mistakes him for the gardener. Only when he addresses her by name does she recognise him.
Why did she not do so before? One reason would assuredly have been that he was the very last person she expected to see standing there. But perhaps the main reason was the state of utter shock, grief and exhaustion she would have been in. She probably barely recognised herself any more. It took the familiar voice speaking her name to bring her back to reality. Or rather, to bring her forward to reality.
For this is not the reality she knew before. It is something wholly new, yet more real than anything she has ever known before. She has awoken to find herself outside the cave. The air is limpid, the early morning light catches the myriad pearls of dew and tiny spiders’ webs that adorn the fragrant grass, a gossamer bridal gown for the new earth.