This Easter has been my first ever Easter as a Catholic. I was only received into the Catholic Church last Pentecost. Last Pentecost was simple and understated, there were very few people at Mass, it was humble and special and full of homely and Godly Love. Having been broken and disappointed so deeply the Easter before hand, it became at first 2nd-place to the disappointment and hurting that came before it, although my joy was evident in the radiant photos which captured my absolute interior happiness. Initially it shone out of my eyes and gave me a radiant glow for weeks, there was much joy on the day, but any celebration only came on the back of raw interior forced and unnecessary breaking of spirit. Later my celebration became something silent and special which resided inside of me in deepest interior peace.
Human beings are funny creatures, some of them have such a dark deceitful unkind side. This Easter I was inflicted with a similar spiritual breaking in. For man believes he has the right, the authority and the power to force, forge, manipulate and interpret Gods timing and Gods work to meet the needs of himself, or that of other men when he deems it applicable. My Lord has been kind and closer than ever to me in my isolation this Easter. I have felt Him shoulder to shoulder holding me when my legs felt like giving way beneath me. When my hands have been shaking I felt His presence in the persons hands holding mine back. He has overridden any over-powering feelings of anger in me, with calm and togetherness, and when in my sanctuary the sorrow and the tears have finally been free-flowing it has been His gaze staring back at me alive and animated from the Aggemian print, that has comforted me, reached me and Loved me beyond all others. Despite my situation at present I do not want to leave this very special room.
Yesterday was another such day. Having entertained my children and many guests for the two weeks Easter holiday, yesterday after a fractious departure, (my ‘husband’ was unkind to me in front of his daughter and her partner) I rashly got into my car (it has to be said not in a state of grace) and I drove myself to Chelmsford. I had been invited to an afternoon with The Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre to celebrate their 370th year anniversary. A paper on The Resurrection was being presented by Professor Tina Beatie and I was really intrigued to hear her speak. Once I had exchanged emails with her, with reference to the courses being run at Roehampton University and our conversation was very interesting. I was quite excited – for what could possibly be better timing for me than a lecture on Mary Magdalene and The Easter Resurrection.
It was not a good day from the beginning and was about to get a little worse. As I was approaching Chelmsford I became a little concerned as I was frightfully low on petrol, so I pulled over to the garage. It was then that I opened my bag only to realise that I had left home without my purse and my much-needed reading glasses, they were in a different bag hanging on the end of my bed. A purse, a cash point card, and my specs are a security that I take for granted, and without them I suddenly felt very vulnerable and quite alone, a little bit like that feeling as a child, when you look up and your hand has unconsciously slipped from your parents hand, and they are nowhere to be seen. I phoned home in a panic and in anger to my ‘husband’, to receive a torrent of spitefulness back at me, and was left feeling even worse. Suddenly I realised my absolute dependence on someone elses kindness to save me. At this point it has to be said that Facebook became an almost perfect God send as I had 2 offers of help at hand, however when I arrived at New Hall School I was warmly welcomed by one of the lovely Sisters who immediately offered to lend me some cash to refuel my car to get me safely home. I was saved by grace but not my own.
I arrived in good time for the 30 minute reception over coffee, where we were encouraged to chat and mingle with the other 80 guests, of whom I never knew one. I was a little nervous and felt a little awkward, but also excited. Just as I was circulating and just as I was beginning to relax, somebody whom I did know and whom I had much respect for came over to speak to me. I smiled and was happy to see her, but she was very unkind to me; she spoke to me in a very accusatory tone. I have only ever been kind to this lady and so I was completely taken aback. It was a very un Christ like almost verbal attack. I answered her questions in submissive kindness and with honesty, and only then, when she was satisfied with my answers, and when she had got over her possible prejudices and forged opinions of me due to misrepresentation, could she see the real me again (whom she had once met and liked). Only then did she respond in a slightly softer and more forgiving tone.
I was gutted, I sat down with my coffee and the disappointment pounded through every part of me. People are so off and so unkind at times, even people in Christ. I felt a little shaken but another part of me rose up and felt good and undeserving of her wrath. I wanted to cry but I didn’t – I took her undeserving wrath and diffused it with my sincerity. And the pain of having been misrepresented by someone somewhere, and the shock of its after waves, and the knowing that I wasn’t that person, although hurting left me feeling good in God, and strong and humbled and held and special. Later on after the presentation the same said woman came up to me and asked me if I could hold the Paschal candle for her whilst she set up her table, and I accepted her offering gracefully. She also in kindness came to me and said ‘what a wonderful talk’ I agreed with her and smiled ‘yes wonderful’.
Why does all this business have to hurt so very much, even days later when writing, the tears fall so easily and the pain is so raw.
Tina Beatie’s paper was wonderful. It was wonderful because it was delivered in such a mild manner, not aggressive, not angry, not over passionate just revealing the contradictions in the Gospels. Contradictions that reveal inconsistencies and misinterpretations, which over time have caused the erasure of the presence and prominence of some of the Gospel women, mainly Mary Magdalene. Much of what was discussed I had already understood myself, not in an academic way, but just in reading and contemplating the words myself and looking beyond them. To hear the talk presented with references and quotes all in one paper was just so rich and brilliant.
I was brave enough to raise a point that I thought had been missed, and that was that Jesus didn’t only wash the disciples feet as a servant to teach them service, but that He very boldly taught and reenacted the Love and devotion that Mary had taught Him, the same act that the apostles had witnessed and previously rebuked. How we have all overlooked this. Many people frown upon the fact that Mary Magdalene had seven demons cast out of her, and this has left her often seen as a repentant sinner. But this is not a message of her previous sin, or downfall or evilness. This is a message of the greatest Grace bestowed. It perfects her. Number seven in the bible is about completion by God. If Mary Magdalene had seven demons cast out of her, then she was filled by light seven times over, this is not about demons, this is about Mary being graced with the seven virtues, the four cardinal virtues and faith, hope, and Love. She was perfected and exalted in God. Why have I never heard anyone else raise this point before, when it is so obvious to me?
Despite this Easters disappointments and bereavements there has been a resurrection of sorts. God has blessed me with an insight for which I am so very grateful. What an amazing journey. I will continue to forgive 77 times – and then another 77 times – and so on and so on – until I die – and I will pray that the people whom I so Love, and the people who I so respect, one day will be allowed to Love and respect me too.
Easter Blessings to all sheep † in Loving service to you all, mags †