The Spiritual Practice of Imagining through scripture and poetry
Introduction ~ Comparing the four gospel stories of the resurrection, NIV translation, there are only two phrases that repeat in each gospel text; “on the first day of the week,” and “Mary Magdalene.” To be clear, the first day of the week in the Jewish tradition is Sunday, but for most modern celebrants of Easter it is the Monday after Easter that there is a collective breath. Life has won over death. Pastors and church workers take the day off to recover from the drama of retelling the story anew, with all its pageantry and promise. Many versions or interpretations of the story have us running immediately to tell the Good News that Jesus lives and that is certainly is one way to respond. Mary Magdalene’s response seems more authentic in some ways… when the other disciples went home, she paused, she cried, she sat in a space that appears to be a garden and then Jesus revealed himself to her. It is a tender scene.
Watching the tenderness in the scenes between Jesus and Mary Magdalene in the rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, starring John Legend and Sara Bareilles, really drove home the idea of pausing like Mary Magdalene did, to be present to Jesus in a way that Sara Teasdale describes in her poem Barter. She speaks of a different economy, much like Jesus did, the “loveliness of life, to hold wonder in a cup, to have holy thoughts and take a breath of ecstasy.” All paraphrased ideas from her poem Barter. Mary Magdalene sat in that space, social distancing par excellent simply, intentionally loving and being loved in the presence of Jesus.
Settle in your breath for the reading of the scripture and the poem.
Breath prayer of your own or Inhale ~ Holy….. Exhale ~ Thoughts
Scripture ~ Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” 3 8Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9(They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10The the disciples went back to their homes, 11but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. 13They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not recognize that it was Jesus. 15“Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” 16Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father, to my God and your God.” 18Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her. John 20:1-3, 8-18
Sara Teasdale – 1884-1933
Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And children’s faces looking up
Holding wonder in a cup.
Life has loveliness to sell,
Music like a curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
Eyes that love you, arms that hold,
And for your spirit’s still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.
Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstasy
Give all you have been, or could be.