Oh what Joy...
He gave me back my life. Took me from the miry clay and placed my feet upon a rock. He loved me for real, loved me beyond my flaws.
I had not felt love since the day I began to listen to the voices in my head. I tried to fight them off when they started. I tried to ignore them, but the pressure was more than I could bear. I started listening to them, I obeyed their commands, I grew insane with the conversations they made in my head and the bitter laughter they sounded through me. I was their slave.
I stopped feeling love, not the day I let any man who would, have access to my body, not when I grabbed at mother and scratched her, leaving a deep scar on her beautiful face, not even on the day I flung a jar of wine at father… or when I beat cousin Anna to a pulp and tried throwing her down the well. I stopped feeling love on the day I took a knife and tried to pluck out the eyes of my little nephew, his innocent eyes made me feel like he was listening to our conversations, and mocking me, his innocent eyes made me angry.
The voices in my head… they were active and cheered me on when I obeyed them, and just when the deed was done, they would go quite and leave me to feel the shame of what I just did for a few minutes before taking over again. What torture. I roamed the streets, I was a street dog, one to be ignored and avoided where possible. I ate from the scraps of peoples left over. I fought with dogs for a meal; I shared the floor of street corners with rats.
My life changed the day I walked through a crowd that gathered in my town of Magdala, I saw a man, the one everyone seemed to be listening to, with eyes like that baby, innocent and filled with love, but interpreted by the voices as a look of mock… I rushed at him, I going to pluck out those eyes with my nails, a big man caught me before I could reach him… and then my prey looked at me and said, “get out of her” in a strong authoritative voice, he wasn’t speaking to me, he was commanding the voices within me. And for the first time in years, the voices shut up in fear, and i shook violently as they struggled to leave me, I spun round and round as I felt them leave, they were seven demons I was later told. After the last left with a deafening scream I fell on the ground weak and exhausted but as light and glad as ever. The master Jesus picked me up himself, and ordered the big one who stopped me earlier to get me something to eat, his name was Peter. It was my first real meal in years.
I never looked back from that day on, I followed him wherever he went, and not even Peter’s sternness could scare me. Out of Magdala we went and everywhere we went, he healed, and performed miracles so great. All I wanted to do was be around the one that gave me back my life and my dignity. I found a new family, people who loved me beyond my past. I got to have normal conversations with the women in the group, Mary the mother of Jesus who treated me as her own daughter and Joanne the wealthy woman who had no trace of pride in her. I helped in cooking and cleaning and mending… Nothing excited me more than seating in the corner and listening to the master to teach. Without the voices in my head, I was able to take in a whole lot of mysteries and proverbs he told. He opened the eyes of my mind to new possibilities. His words gave me new life every time I listened. I was blessed indeed.
Nothing shocked me more than the moment when he was arrested and sentenced. It was a bad sight. My master, my teacher… the one filled with love treated with such scorn. I walked with Mary his mother, unable to comfort her as I was beyond broken myself. I held on to John the disciple. I looked around for Peter, I wanted his strength at that moment, I wanted that part of him that gave me the scare to be close by, and maybe it would scare the vultures perching on my Lord too. I wanted my Lord to do something. He is mighty, I knew that for sure. I willed him to call on the angels, for every step we took to the crucifixion; I had an expectation, an expectation of something extraordinary happening and those who scorned him struck dead. But nothing of that sort happened.
Seeing him on the cross, between two convicted criminals brought on an animal rage within, it made me desire my past, the torment of those demons were better than the torment of seeing him on the cross, seeing him suffer to death for nothing.
My life seemed to have ended the moment I heard him scream his last words and take his last breath… The darkness that fell in that hour took away my hope… my heart was left in darkness, pitch-black nothingness at the death of my rabbi. I was a sheep without a shepherd. Where do I go to, whom do I follow? Who will love me like the love of the master? The words spoken to Job rang in my head “curse God and die” I will curse him, and I would die… right after I anoint my masters body. We watch in silent grief as his body is taken down, wrapped up and carried to a tomb for burial. We would be back to anoint him after the Sabbath, and then I would die.
I couldn’t wait for the others and so I went ahead, at the crack of dawn. The stone was rolled away from the entrance. My heart stopped at the sight, would they deny me this last joy too? Who would do that? The thought carried my legs faster than it’s ever gone as I ran to inform the disciples, John the beloved, and Peter… Peter who I was glad to see back in the fold went to confirm my claim. I ran behind the two back to the tomb, I was half expecting to see that I made a mistake, that my eyes had failed me. But alas, it was still wide open and empty, the look on the disciples faces took away my last strand of strength. I fell at the entrance of the tomb and wept. I refused to go with Peter and John as they walked back to where the others waited. I would crawl in and lie down where he lay for death to take me, and so I knelt to look into the place I would breath my last. Inside sat two men dressed in white one at the foot and the other at the head of the place I wanted for me. How did they get in there I wondered. Or were the spirits back to dwell within me, was I hallucinating again?
Their question jolted me back to reality, they were real after all “woman why do you weep” they asked.
Why wouldn’t I weep? I was a woman broken beyond repair, a woman snatched from the belly of life and joy into darkness and emptiness. I was a woman who watched love destroyed on a tree like a common criminal. I was a woman who had been denied her last meaningful task of anointing the masters body before I entered my own everlasting sleep. I let out a sigh when I realized they were waiting for an answer “They’ve taken my master, and I don’t know where they have placed him” I replied amidst sobs. I felt a presence behind me as I spoke, I turned around to look and another stranger stood there and weirdly asked me the same question “why do you weep? Who are you looking for?”
My patience is running out. I can’t keep talking to strangers, I can’t keep telling them the reason for my sorrow, who would understand? Maybe this one knows where he is, I’ll confront him and give him no choice but to lead me to the masters body. "Mister, if you took him, tell me where you put him so I can care for him." I demanded of him.
“Mary” the stranger replied, in a familiar tone, ooh what joy… how could I have missed this? It is my Lord.
“Rabonni” I cry out and reach out to hold him. But his abrupt response stops me.
"Don't cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go to my brothers and tell them, 'I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.'"
He smiles after his words. This is him indeed. How it has come to be, I know not. For I saw him myself, I saw him hang from that tree, I saw his side pierced, I saw him buried, but here he is, I am standing before him, he is smiling at me, I can’t touch him as much as i want to, but I can feel him, my eyes drink him up… My heart beats again, the light of his presence has driven out the darkness, hope has been restored, I have not been forgotten or abandoned like I thought. There is a reason to live… I feel alive again, I died at the foot of the cross, but I have been brought to life by the tomb and the sighting of my lord.
I don’t want to live him incase I never get to see him again, but I know I have to, my excitement, the new life bursting in me, wouldn’t let me stay longer. I have a task, me, the one with the unclean spirit, the reject, the one who planned on cursing God. I, Mary Magdalene, I was the one chosen, the one to bear this great tidings, the first to see my Lord alive again. I smile at him, I almost tell him to promise I’ll see him again… the twinkle in his eyes tells me he knows what I’m thinking, it tells me I will always have him with me.
I have good tidings, I run even faster than I did this morning. My Lord is risen. He’s alive, not even the grave and the scorn and vileness of the people could hold him captive. He is lord indeed. Praise the Lord God of Israel. Oh Mary, his mother… I want to jump up and down with her as I share the news, I want to hear Peter’s scary roar of laughter, and see Johns twinkling eyes, I want to see Joanna, and the other Mary and all the other disciples laugh again, I want to see their life restored like mine has been by the risen Christ.
He was broken that we may be made whole. May the power of Christ's resurrection work in us and bring to life ever part of us that has been dead in sorrow. May the light of his rising shine in our hearts and give us a light of peace and joy.
Have a happy Easter.