What a truly special and beautiful day. This glorious morning I awoke and took myself off to St James the Less for Mass, as my parish priest is away in Lourdes on pilgrimage. My first-born is in Lourdes for the first time too, I have yet to discover her riches. It is the Feast Day of my beloved and graceful companion St Mary Magdalene. I can not explain it except to say that it was a deeply prayerful Mass, so much so that it felt as though I were not at all alone but in the greatest of company.
Whilst I was waiting for Mass to begin, in my mind’s eye I coated the Sanctuary and the church in a new crisp coating of fresh white paint, and I re-painted the garish-red ceiling in deepest most expensive Mary Blue, and I replaced the dour green carpet in the main body of the church with something that wasn’t dour and green. And in my prayer I was suddenly in a church of my making fresh and crisp and white and breathtakingly beautiful, and the Sanctuary and all the stone work suddenly stood out far more beautiful than ever before, clean and breathing again, each slab purposely full of poise and prayer contemplating eternity. And all the blue from the stain glass windows at once leapt up and danced with the blue in the newly painted panelled ceiling, and the red on the Sanctuary carpet became a warm and tangible echo of the richest garnet and ruby reds of the Saints garments, luminous in the glass . . . . and all was well and heightened for St Mary Magdalene’s Mass.
After Mass had finished I prayed for my intentions. I lit a candle, and instead of placing it in the wrought-iron stand, I placed it on the stone plinth at the bottom of Our Lady’s feet. I touched the hem of her chiselled and filed garment and I let her touch my soul through my fingertips back. I looked up twice at her most beautiful young complection when I was on my knees in prayer, and such a gentle kindness smiled back at me with the slightest movement of her stone eyes, and all at once it were as if I were younger than her, and she a mother to me, an impossibility age wise, but it was so.
And then I left . . . after buying a little phial of holy water from the deacon.
This afternoon I went up to St Mary Magdalene Church. This is the church that I wrote about a few blogs back, it is closed to the public but we are still permitted to visit the humble, tranquil, secluded grounds, and I do. They rather remind me of The Secret Garden book which my next door neighbour’s grown up children brought for me, after my neighbour died. Today however I did something a little different, I made the sign of the cross as I passed through the gate, and I walked along the gravel path towards the far end (the back) of the building, and then as if by completely turning everything upon its head you arrive at the front door to the church. Perfect. Jesus would like this.
Instead of passing this ancient doorway by as I usually would, today for some reason I stooped low and spied through the keyhole . . . . and there she was waiting for me perfectly – all I could see was the corner glimpse of Mary Magdalene on the beautiful stain glass window, which from the outside one can barely make out. Inspired by her presence I lay my pink cardigan down under the old yew tree. I lit a little citronella tea light candle and then beneath that evergreen doorway to the other realm, I said my prayers and read through my little purse sized Mass card. I then sprinkled holy water on all my saved and special writings and papers, and I asked Mary Magdalene to guide me, bless me, and to intercede for me whilst I sat contemplating and writing her/the/His Charism.
I fully understand the importance of not allowing anyone but Him to be at the very centre of us all, but of course more than anyone so did Mary understand this, and that is why she just has to be the very person who can lead us all closest to Him, more so than any other person. For before she knew Him she was like us, compellingly observing Him from the safety of our lives, but the more she came to know Him just as we have, the closer still He drew her, and so she was drawn far closer to Him – closer than anyone else. And in this intimacy she perfected her beloved relationship with Him, so much so, that when He was crucified and died, however painfully devastating to watch, she refused to leave Him alone. And upon His Beloved return He chose at first to reveal Himself to her, and to reassure her, and to comfort her. And it was her that He trusted with the most entrusted mission of them all – To deliver His Love. I hope you remember in your prayers to thank her for bringing the Good News to you all. Jesus never had to ask Mary ‘do you Love me’ three times as He did Peter, because He knew Mary Loved Him without even having to ask. For Love knows Love through the eyes of the soul.
And so it was on a beautifully penetrating summers day that I began to make some sence and order of the Charism. I let it seep into my bones like a Love letter – which was perfectly beautiful – as even in the deepest solitude I felt in Love and not at all alone. Which was a perfectly understandable feeling as I had been reading Letters To A Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke and I recognised so much of my childhood coming back to me through his insightful and eloquent words, where that loneliness of being an adult is at once as it were as a child – a friend again. A magical or spiritual place with no aloneness only wonder. I picked a little loose stone from the wall of the actual Church and suddenly through my mind sang the words ‘On this rock I build my church’ and I giggled to myself.
After I collected the triune of children from the primary school, we went back to the church on our mission. We took an ancient flint cobble from our own ancient 550 year old cottage garden. It was in the shape of a triangle, and my last-born chose the place on the front of the church, close to the ancient doorway, where we set it high up into a gap in the mortar, where in the flower bed below we took an ancient flint cobble that had tumbled from the church. We swapped cobbles and the ritual was written as if inscribed in stone, a covenant between me and Magdalene.
I then made the children squirm with laughter by sprinkling and flickering them with the rest of the holy water. Then together we blessed some bread and a drop of red wine, just as the priest does. The children know that it is not the same as the priest doing it in the Church, and so it may not become the true body and blood of Christ, but still we did it in memory of Him, just like He told us too, and even ‘littlest, too young for the Eucharist’ child was not to be excluded. And how special it was. Then after a little ‘Grave hide and seek’ which really is the most charming childhood delightful game, a game which I am utterly sure the residents in the graveyard Love to witness, we left to say hello to the family of goats. This was truly wonderful, as the owner came out of the amazing manor house which is secretly nestled behind the trees, and he gave the children pellets to hold in their tiny cupped hands, and they fed the whole family of goats.
We arrived home drunk on the happiness of summertime and then indulged ourselves a little more drunk on fresh strawberry and ice-cream smoothies, with the strawberries I brought from the strawberry farm earlier in the day. And so you see – today we all became just a little bit closer to Heaven.
What an enchanting and magical day, they really don’t come much better than this.
Thank You Dearest God.
The children and I Love you so very much †