If we had but a glimpse of the world as a resting place would we be caught in the sacred story? Honoured as the whole of life becomes a day of preparation. We might just then become co-creators of the dawn for a divine re-imagining of the lost art and beauty of creation. A life laid fallow, for a time, is not in vain. To let go, to allow the natural restfulness to rise up and with gentle ease, to participate; earthed once again.
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?
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
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
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
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
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
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
On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment. Luke 23:56
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
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
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
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.