Women of the Passion

Women of the Passion.

Women of the Passion is a series of ten reflections on an image created by Chloe in chalk-pastel. Originally separate, now gathered here in one place to read in sequence.

The second image was the result of a moment’s inspiration and serendipitous sunlight through a window onto the picture.

Who is She?

She represents the women who followed Jesus and provided for him. They remained faithful where others betrayed or fled.  Then, unexpectedly became the first witnesses to his rising.  But ‘she’ is also is also ‘we’ looking on through the window of the cross to these events from afar.  

Will our response be as faithful as that of those women?

Anointed.

You risked it all in a moment of emotion charged with an energy that heightened the senses as perfumed hands, feet, and hair, mingled for a time.  Physical touch, in kindness, sorrow and love. Knowing somehow another chance would not come.

Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.  John 12:3

 

Questioning.

Hidden in the half light and shadows, were you desperately seeking the truth with a piercing gaze over firelight? When the courage to speak out was rewarded with a betrayal of the truth.

Then a servant-girl, seeing him in the firelight, stared at him and said, “This man also was with him.”  Luke 22:56

 

Weeping.

Anguished tears flow for a moment passing by for the loss, pain and a fear that grips like cords tightening deep in the soul longing for another turning.

“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.”  Luke 23:28

 

Witness

Huddled together against the jeering and mocking of the condemned, distant but engaged still.  You who once sustained now resigned, not powerless but waiting, where others deserted, the faithful remnant.

There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. Mark 15:40

 

Enduring

You, there at the beginning, now at the ending.  The sword of sorrow promised for your heart has pierced your soul.  In silent loyal vigil receiving a taste of the bitter cup.  With gritted teeth ‘according to your word’ comfort to another’s son.

“Woman, here is your son.”  John 19:26

 

Preparing.

Still you follow, unwavering.  Quietly you defy authority watching, waiting for the right moment, for swords have no power here.  Your peaceful action, begins the silent revolution-echo through the centuries.  Keep watch.  

The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Luke 23:55

 

Rest.

On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment. Luke 23:56

 

Dawning.

You return expectant, of nothing more than the task of loving service to anoint the departed. You who have been there through it all, now in the final moment as the earth turns to the sun in the quietness of the morning after. Suddenly unprepared

And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. Mark 16:2

 

Revelation.

for the moment you found everything changed confused in disarray both hearts and tomb lay empty before you no place to lay flowers or memorial.  What then now but to flee away until, until before you, not stone, but word softly spoken

So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. Mark 16:8

 

Revolution.

calling you by name with tears of sadness and joy unburdened now of your first telling the emotions ride out.  Nervous whispers permeate gatherings of those who misunderstood for now it begins.

Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. Luke 24:10

Shaking off the dust on The Way

Knowing when to stay, knowing when to leave is one of the most challenging invitations for discernment that we will ever encounter and no this is not about the politics shenanigans surrounding the dreaded ‘b’ word.  When is it time to move on, to shake the dust from your feet and to continue on the journey?  

There are times, for staying leaning against the resistance that we meet; times when God calls us to engage difficulties and struggles that will shape and form us and those we meet in a way that ease and comfort never can. There is ground that becomes holy only when we remain long enough to see the blessings that can emerge from struggle, that shimmers through only after the dust the struggle has kicked up finally begins to settle.  And then there are times for leaving; times when—as Jesus counsels his disciples—the holy thing to do is to shake the dust from our feet and leave behind a place that is no longer meant for us.  But this is not just for those of us whose calling it is to move from place to place.  It is for all of us.  For we will from time to time all need to move on, spiritually, politically, emotionally, physically;  knowing when the time is right is an important task of self knowledge and discernment.  As we journey through Lent towards Easter we can easily get stuck in the wilderness, hopefully that is only metaphorically speaking but knowing the terrain in Snowdonia – you never know.  We can get stuck in the spiritual wilderness of Lent -or I suspect comfortable might be a more appropriate word, comfortable, unable, unwilling perhaps to move on in the journey.  And in Lent, the journey towards Easter, unwilling perhaps to accept the transformation that might come if we were to move on.  The transformation Easter brings means things are never the same on the other side. And because we celebrate Easter every year, that means a continual getting up and moving on – keeping ourselves moving on physically, emotionally, politically, spiritually.  The film ‘The Way’ is about walking on in pilgrimage but it’s also about life and death, about staying and leaving.  Knowing when to remain and when to shake the dust off and move on.  Tom, the main character did not set out to walk the Camino, but he found himself walking the way after his son died on the first day of his own pilgrimage.  Tom becomes an unlikely, unusual and at times unwilling pilgrim.  We’ll meet the characters as they walk between a variety of places receiving hospitality in many of the Refugios along the Camino St. Iago de Compostella.  But I want to reflect on one in particular – one where the temptation would have been to shake off the dust rather too soon and make for the road before time.  Our fellow travellers have arrived at Burgos a town where like may others gypsies live alongside the rest of the population and are often mistrusted.  They are relaxing after a long day’s walk, reunited with friends from earlier on the journey.  Tom’s pack which contains the box of his Son’s ashes is stolen by a gypsy boy.  Despite chasing him through the town they do not find him or the pack.  Tom is unwilling to leave the ashes of his Son behind.  As they return to the Refugio Tom is ready to pack up, get a flight home and to give up on the whole journey.  He is about to wipe the dust of this crazy expedition off his feet.  He began it on a whim, why not end it abruptly too.  However, the gipsy boy’s father walks into the the bar with Tom’s pack untouched, and extends an invitation to all the travellers to join them for an evening meal and entertainment as an apology.  Tom accepts and gets more than an evening’s food and entertainment.  Ishmael speaks to him about his son and suggests he walk on, beyond Compostella to place his son’s remains in the sea. Not for religious reasons, but for him and for his Son.

To truly shake the dust off his feet – this can come to it’s proper end, then he can move on. Shaking the dust off our feet is not about condemnation of another for we notice that Luke tells us that the The Kingdom of God is near to all, both those who welcome the disciples word and those who do not.  Shaking off the dust is about knowing when it is right to move on, for us, not to let the past dictate our future encounters and journey, to allow, when they come, opportunities that times like Lent and Easter bring to allow us to move on physically, emotionally, spiritually.  Jesus tells us to travel with no purse or bag or sandles and even to shake the dust from our feet lest it be a burden to us as we journey on.  For as Tom and his companions found out in The Way, much as we might want to be prepared ourselves, the Journey is always about letting go, about the hospitality of others, and ultimately the hospitality of God.

The Way and the Transfiguration

If you expect me to tell you to get out and climb a mountain this week in order that you’re face shine enough to suggest to those around you that you have been face to   face with God, as Moses and Jesus have in the Bible story of the Transfiguration then you’ll be disappointed.  You just need to find and sit in a patch of Late winter Sun, as I did this year when we experienced a rather warmer than usual end to February.  Sadly no divine presence – but a strange warming sensation I’ve not experienced for a while, probably since last Autumn!  We hear in the story of the transfiguration Moses and Jesus climbing to a high place before a confrontation.  The times folk do this in the bible, climb a mountain, go out into a desert, go out into a boat, cross a lake, take a moment out, find some clarity, be prepared for the next happening.  As we embark upon Lent on Ash Wednesday, leading ultimately to Holy Week and Easter, perhaps we too need to take that step back and see the whole picture.  And we are offered it here in Luke, looking towards Jerusalem.  Before we begin Lent with the whole journey before us it feels (to me at least) as if I am wholly unprepared for what is to come.  Life can turn on a pin head sometimes.  It happens so often when news comes fast and it matters not really what the news is, whether it be the death of a loved one, a crisis of some sort, even a birth or other unexpected arrival.  What changes our course is the perspective, the focus upon the person, the happening the event brings.  In the film The Way, Martin Sheen’s character Tom finds out that his Son Daniel has died suddenly in an accident.  So begins his journey, The Way of St. James, the Camino Sant Iago de Compostella.  For those outside his experience it seems not to make any sense at all. His sudden change of focus is unwavering as everything looks different from the inside.  As Tom looks over his Son Daniel’s ruck sac and possessions he decides rashly perhaps to walk the Way his Son had set out on.  His companions along the way may not have been the ones he would have chosen.  Indeed, he wanted to walk alone.  He wanted no-one to interfere with his grief, with his personal journey, or know the reasons for it.  Yet there is one path, so realistically they will continue to bump into each other at least sometimes.  So why not walk together.  A journey like this might even appear irrational.  Why set out on the road?  Which metaphorical road do we take?  The high road, the low road, the long and winding road, the lonesome road, the royal road, the open road, private road, road to hell, the tobacco road, crooked road the straight and narrow road, the road stretching into infinity? The right road and of course the road we all fear we have taken from time to time, the wrong road.  Which begs the question, what am I doing here?  What am I doing now?  Where are we?  Time to stop and rewind, get some perspective.  Everyone has a starting point for their journey, it might not be the Camino, it might even be making it through this next week, day even, or perhaps the journey through Lent that begins on Ash Wednesday.  The first task is to recognise where you are and to begin where you are.  We ought to begin from where we are on the journey towards Holy Week and Easter.  If you’ve never made that journey through Holy Week, followed the way of the cross, then perhaps this year can be a first opportunity.  On the Sunday before Lent we have the opportunity to look out over the weeks to come in order to prepare for what is ahead of us.  Which road will we take?  Some of us will take the Pilgrimage road that leads from Penmachno to Dolwyddelan on Good Friday, and on Holy Saturday, on from Dolwyddelan to Llanrhychwyn where we will welcome the first light of Easter.  The journey does not end at Easter.  We’ll walk on towards Llangelynnin to join the way to Enlli, the North Wales Pilgrim Way.  Our very own Camino de William Morgan begins here.  Though the way is not yet well trodden nor the path well known, it is there ready for us to embark.  So to is our journey into Lent and Holy Week, it is only for us to accept the invitation, and perhaps we too will come as Jesus and Moses face to face with God.  All this helps us to see ourselves more clearly and to recognise the imprint of God on each one of us.  No need for a mountain, just a mirror and the wisdom to see clearly in the glass darkly.