Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Feast of Mary Magdalen

The calling of Mary Magdalen

I know that sound
A stranger’s name
Do you not see?
Goodness gone

‘Go now’
Speaking – not to me.
Eyes flash
Claws bury into flesh
A surge of rage
And then,

‘Will you come?’
Foolish question.
The light is not for me
Dark space
Unknowing, unknown
A leper’s curse upon it
I know my place.

‘I have called you’
A silhouette stands
Against my soul’s daybreak
Shadows scoured by sunlight
‘Did you not hear me, Mary?
I have called you by your name
You are mine.’

The 'Why' of Mary Magdalen

She awoke from a curse of sleep; uncertain that she was truly awake or  dreaming of a 'might have been' the demons had denied her. Keeping her eyes closed she waited for the shudder of reality and the shrill laughter that meant she was still forsaken. The world remained but still she did not open her eyes - she had become used to the dark - casting her senses out she felt the warmth of the evening sun weighing down the air in the room; a stillness that suggested a closed door, a curtained window. Voices in the next room; friendly voices sounding back and forth. The tinny clatter of bells and the grumbling of chickens signalled that she was near the back of the house - a storeroom or a workshop perhaps? 

She opened her eyes. The curtain she had rightly imagined,  did not completely shut out the light; feather scraps and dust motes danced in the gentle rays of a setting sun. The light was good enough to see that she was, indeed, in a storeroom of sorts - pots of preserves bound closed with waxed seals, baskets of fruit and vegetables standing guard near the door, wine jars collecting dust in the cool corner. Only just enough room for the cot she was lying on. Simple but far, far better than she was used to. 

She took a slow breath and relaxed the clenched fists resting on her stomach. She felt the soft, spun texture of the robe she had been dressed in. 'An old one of mine' his mother had said gently. When she had resisted the woman had added 'after all you are family, now. Why, we even have the same name.'
She reached one hand up to her hair and ran a length through her fingers; no longer matted and oily, it smelt of rosemary and sunshine. The woman had commented that hair as dark as hers needed rosemary to make it shine; she wondered if her mother had ever known that.

She felt as if she had been scalded; but even as she felt it- she felt healing taking place within and without. She lifted up her arms - smooth now and shining with oil - still crisscrossed with scars where talons had raked into her despair. 'Better leave those,' she thought  'or I will never remember who I am.'
Then laughed at the thought that she had any control over the healing; and laughed again at the sound of her own laughter. 

The sound must have disturbed the group in the outer room; the doorcurtain  moved to one side; the mother came in and sat on the edge of the cot; smiling softly as her eyes scanned her noticing the blossoming wellness in her. 'When you are ready, please come and join us.' The woman returned to the outer room and goodbyes and blessings were passed to and fro - and then quiet.

After a time she pulled herself to a sitting postion and then twisted her legs off the bed. The soles of her feet picking up the warmth of the sandy floor and the gritty texture against the skin. She ran her tongue around her mouth and across her teeth - she was thirsty- perhaps there would be a jug of water just the other side of the threshold. 

As she moved the curtain aside she saw the woman and her son sitting together; their heads nearly touching as they whispered to each other. When they looked up, they both had the same smile. The woman stood up to leave, put her hand on her son's head and kissed him; saying the words of a childhood blessing. 

The water was cool; with sparkles of liquid light and tiny rainbows reflecting off the glaze of the cup. She couldn't remember noticing that about water before but then there was very little that she trusted her memory to. 

She sat on a cushion near the room she had left. The silence held; she relaxed her weight and took a drink. As she lifted the cup she caught his eye.

'You are well.' it was a statement; not a question. He had made her well; she knew that much. Her concern now was what would it cost her.

'Where did they go?'

'The others have gone to stay in my friend Simon's house. We thought you would prefer some quiet.'

She shook her head. 'Not them; the demons. Where did they go?" She shuddered at the thought that some other poor soul may have opened a door to their possession. 'Did you kill them?'

'No,' He gave just a slight shake of the head; a question no-one else had asked, 'they do not die; but they have a place and that is no longer with you; you are safe now.'

She believed him; she knew the spaces where they had lived -  eyes, heart, womb - were cleansed and filled now with something both light and heavy and infinitely good. The silence returned; restful as a summer's night. That she could feel at peace this close to a man...but as soon as she thought it; it faded. It felt that she stood apart as every moment of cruelty, misplaced passion, rage or loss found release with each outward breath -shades into mists.

What next? What could she offer as thanks for this salvation? What could she say that would keep her close to this man and his quiet healing presence?

A whispered plea; 'I know I can never repay you; but perhaps if you would take me as a servant? There are so many others such as me. I know where they live; where they suffer as I have. If you can heal me then maybe,  if you were willing,you will let me take you to them. I could care for them... with you.'

How did she dare?

He gazed at her. In his heart, a silent prayer of thanks to Abba. 'Mary, you and I are both servants; perhaps though,  you could take me as your friend.


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