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Portrait of the Artist as a Lone Tree


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A message from Magdala

John 20:16; Jesus said to her, "Mary."
Click to hear (.mp3)

“What do you wait for, Mary,
alone among the graves?
Why do you linger long here,
and gaze on silent caves?”

“I loved him more than others;
I loved him more than all -
because he came to save me from
what others thought my call.

For money I made merry
with men who loved me not,
but every day I hated life,
and loathed my lonely lot.

For every man had had me,
in bed, or shady place,
and every day I played my role,
in deepening disgrace.

The Pharisees despised me.
”Unclean!” they cried in hate;
they offered no way out for me,
and left me to my fate.

I longed for love and comfort,
but thought I'd never know
the life that other women led.
To them, I seemed a foe.

While living in the city,
although I ruled the night,
by day I could not meet the eyes
of those who knew my plight.

So when he came, I feared him;
I thought this holy man
would never have a place for me
in any Godly plan.

And yet his words roused longing -
he seemed to be so kind;
I asked myself, that if indeed
this man could heal the blind,

then could his power in pity
e’en heal my hurting heart?
He turned to me, and once he spoke,
the devils must depart.

No coldness did he show me
while others looked in shock -
but firmly he commanded them,
“Come out!”, and as one flock

they did as he commanded.
The crowd all gasped, or ran.
But when he raised me up, I knew
that day, my life began!

So when they left me, Jesus
made me another one
of those who follow gladly
where’er his feet have gone.

For in his flock are many,
and each within it knows
that but for Christ compassionate,
they’d share my former woes.

That day, I joined his people,
a life of love to live;
for God has given Jesus Christ
the power to forgive!

Now no-one called me curséd,
but looked me in the eye,
and said I was their sister;
I’d cry, and cry, and cry.

I have no words to tell you
what joy his presence gave,
but now without a reason
they have laid him in the grave.

It seems the dream is over -
that Mary might be glad -
and everyone will make me live
a life obscene and sad.

Without him I have nothing;
I loathe my very life.
Already there are knaves who say
that I was Jesus’ wife!

For they can ne’er imagine
what joy it was to know
that he would love me ever as
a sister pure as snow.

And that to me was dearer far
than anything in life;
I’d sooner be a suicide
than ever Jesus’ wife.

But all is gone and empty;
I stand before his tomb.
I weep here for my brother,
and my life is wrapped in gloom.

What kind of man then are you,
that queries of me here?
Please leave me grieving heedlessly,
and worry not my ear.”

The stranger just said ‘Mary’,
and looked her in the eye;
she saw the one who could not be alive,
‘neath dawns dim sky.

Her joy could not be measured,
contained, or even guessed;
for by his vict’ry over death,
he’d shown her life was blest.

If death itself was ended,
the life he’d let her lead
could never then be took away,
and joy was hers indeed.

The joy of resurrection
is sweet and deeply held
by those who know without it
they would live their lives compelled.

(The traditional view of Mary having been a prostitute is not universally accepted today. My decision to regard her as such is based not on tradition, but on the supposition that any woman regarded as having seven devils would have had few other career opportunities in 1st century Jerusalem.)

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