Saturday, March 30, 2013

Revealing the Fullness of God's Love: Mary Magdalene from The Mary Passions, part three



 A reflection on the Gospel for the Great Vigil, reimagined through the eyes of Mary Magdalene.

Whether from gray skies
 and starless nights
or the weight of grief
pressed against my heart -
I do not know.

But I had not slept—
Could not sleep
For -
my mind raced,
struggling to grasp
our crushing loss. 

Was he truly gone,
 Jesus, my friend?
No one should endure
the agony of
love
tortured and
stolen from them. 

The darkness of night
Swallowed us,  
and there
we women remained -
until the song of the birds
alerted us
to this dawning day.

We gathered our
oil and spices
and ventured into
the early morning light
to go to the tomb.

We did not speak.

The ritual of this
loving obligation to the dead
was well known to us,
 the only conversation
between us
 flowed
in the sorrowful echoes
of our footsteps.

The tomb
looked as it did
when his body
was laid to rest
 two days before.

The entrance to the tomb,
 small -
but easily accessible -
was marked
by the scars
of its recent hewing,
 jagged and raw.

 I felt oddly comforted
by its gaping darkness,
as it reflected
the state
of my own soul—
jagged,
raw
and bleak.

 Perhaps it was for
this reason
that I gathered
the folds of my dress
around me
and,
without hesitation
ducked through the opening
 to confront the reality
of my lifeless beloved.

The others
followed
and as our eyes
adjusted to the darkness
 our hearts
were puzzled. 

“He is not here,” -
my  startled voice
broke the silence.

We looked at one another,
 fear creeping into our blood.

 I set the ointment down
 beside the lonely shroud
that had wrapped his body
and made my way around
the perimeter of the tomb.

It was as empty as I felt.

Suddenly
 the tomb was filled with light,
as though the sun
had breached the horizon
and directed its rays
to illuminate
our devastated world. 

So vivid was the light
that at first
we did not see
the two angels
who stood before us
in radiating brilliance.

One of them spoke gently –
“Do not be afraid,”

“Why do you look
for the living
among the dead?
He is not here,
but has risen.

My thoughts reached deep
into the mystery
remembering that
 this man
whom we loved -
Jesus -
taught us about
God’s love –
He and his love
changed our hearts
changed  our lives. 

The experience of
God’s love
Poured out
 in Jesus,
began to take hold
and banish the fear
that had settled
 in my heart.

 I had no answers,
 but
neither was I afraid.

I heard my voice again
“He is not here!”

Could it be?

Was it possible
that the promise
of his triumph
was more than
a metaphor,
 that it was,
 in fact,
the miracle
we
were blessed to witness
here
in this tomb?

“He has risen?”
queried
one of my companions,
and another
shouted with excitement,

“He is risen!”

In one heartbeat we turned
And found the angels gone.

 The light, however,
Continued
 to fill the emptiness,
permeating our hearts
with a love - full
and rich,
and
peace-filled.

Our grief
gave way to a  
shattering awareness -
we began to
 leap with a joy
that we had never known.

Before we knew it
we were
rushing from the tomb
 toward the village,
and before long
we came upon the place
 where the disciples
 had gathered.

Peter,
hearing our ruckus,
 got up
and began to move toward us.

When he saw who he were
he stopped,
 puzzled by our exuberance.  

One by one
the others got up
and moved toward us,
 and by the time
we reached them
they were drawn together
 in a cluster of
confusion and concern.

Peter grasped my arms in his hands.
 “What is it?” he demanded,
fearing,
 I think,
that our mourning
had given way
to delirium.

We began to talk all at once,
sharing the gleeful news –
Jesus was risen!

The significance of our words
began to sink in,
 but the men were
backing up
 and
turning away,
dismissing our claims as
 fantasy and
wishful thinking.

 Only Peter continued to listen,
but doubt
clouded his eyes, too. 

At last
we fell into silence,
and Peter
looked at each of us,
furrows of
weariness
and the weight of sin –
of his own betrayal of
Jesus, of God’s love -
 etched across his forehead
his mouth drawn down.

“Go home,”
 he said at last.
 “You are tired.
We are all tired.
We will talk soon.”

In stunned silence
we turned away
and began our walk home.

I turned once to look back,
and saw Peter
walk away -
 in the direction
 from which
we
had come. 

He was going to the tomb.

He picked up his pace,
and
before he
disappeared from view
 I thought I saw him
 begin to run.

That evening
Peter came to see us,
 bringing with him
the oil and spices
we had abandoned at the tomb.

 I knew
when I saw him enter the doorway
that he had seen
 and believed.

His face was no longer ravaged
 by the bitterness
of the last few days,
 but was illuminated
by the light of
joy and renewal.

I took the jars from him
and wrapped
 my arms
around him,
 and in that moment
we felt buoyed
by the love
that been
bequeathed to us
and
 would now sustain us.

We talked
 long into the night
until the full impact
of all we had witnessed
and come to understand
 was within our reach.

We then yielded
 to the fatigue
we had pushed away,
and Peter took his leave
 as I sought out my bed.

Outside the door,
 stars
hidden from my view
the previous two nights
seemed to sparkle
with a new brightness,
 and though my heart
still ached with loss,
peace
coursed through my veins
like a soothing tonic.

 The world
might appear the same,
 but everything
was made new!

For the fullness
Of God’s love
Prevails
And
Jesus
Is Risen!
Alleluia! 

The Mary Passions are a three part series written by Kate Hennessy-Keimig, Anne Wolf-Fraley, and Terri C. Pilarski reimaging the last days of Jesus through the eyes of Mary, the Mother; Mary of Bethany; and Mary Magdalene and offered this year for Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and The Great Vigil of Easter. 

1 comment:

ramona said...

oooh...lovely.

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