The Wind Cries Mary - of Magdala: “Apostle to the Apostles" (first evangelist)

“The feminine spirit is rising deep in the hearts of creation, to heal our battered world and bring new life.”

--Mary Southard, CSJ, artist

July 22 – Feast day of Mary Magdalene


Correcting over 2,000 years of misinformation, I hope you’ll be able to see that Mary is NOT the “sinner” that anointed Jesus feet with oil and wiped them with her hair. Instead, she is, as St. Augustine called her – “The apostle to the apostles.” She was the only recorded person to remain with Jesus from the cross to the grave and from the grave to the garden tomb on that First Day of the Week.


This week, Richard Rohr is focusing on this courageous woman who has been relegated to the backrooms of church history. In her place, the front stage has been given to men – who didn’t go all the way with Jesus in his hour of need, abandoning him for the safety of the upper room.

Mary chose the lower room – at the foot of his execution station and outside the tomb that could not contain him. For her faithfulness, she was rewarded with being chosen as the first person the Risen Teacher appeared to on that first day of the week.

He whispered her name, “Mary.”



Above: Artist Janet McKenzie’s portrayal of Mary Magdalene alongside Jesus

Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations – Weekly Theme: Mary Magdalene

--above image used as the banner image for this week’s meds (Rx’s)

Love and Knowing Become One Sunday, July 19, 2020

Go Back to the Gospels Monday, July 20, 2020

She Does Not Run Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Faithful to the End Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Great Love Thursday, July 23, 2020

Come and See Friday, July 24, 2020

Click here for the weekly summary & contemplative practice.

In Tuesday’s meditation, Richard notes: “[1] Though it may seem like a small victory to some, I think it’s significant that in 2016 Pope Francis decreed that Mary Magdalene’s feast day, July 22, is “to be ‘celebrated’ liturgically like the rest of the apostles.” See https://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2016/06/10/160610c.html.

Janet McKenzie – Artist

Janet McKenzie artist – Home Page


Hope – video shows her artwork being used to raise awareness of current social issues

--see “Liberation Theology” below


Her “Jesus of the People” project





McKenzie’s portrayal of Jesus as a black man (above) got her death threats. William Paul Young was similarly criticized for his depiction of G-d as a black woman in his classic book “The Shack.”


Art can bypass our overly-opinionated & defended minds & penetrate our souls







So far, I haven’t been treated the same as McKenzie, Young and other artists for my artistic interpretation of Jamaican Jesus in my post about Jesus as a musician:


“I Must be about my Father’s Business” – if Jesus’ dad was a Musician





That said, I WAS censured for an email I sent to some church folks in which I portrayed Jesus praying in full lotus position.



Question: You’re a Sunday school teacher in a foreign land. How else would you present the Prophet, the Divine Lover, to local souls, including children? If he is to be accepted, it’ll help if he looks like one of them.

FYI – I looked online and was not able to find a dark-skinned version of the above.

Artists know what Paul knew when he said that he wanted to be all things to all people (1 Cor. 9). The Kingdom of G-d is like…a lotus blossom…

Jesus and Krishna




Jesus and Ganesha



“If you’re hungry, I’ll come to you as bread and feed you with my very self.”

--Jesus & Gandhi



For more on unconventional sacred imagery, see my Holy Thursday post:


Holy Thursday - Do WHAT in memory of me?

“What if it’s simply to be together around the dinner table, perhaps a last meal together for a particular family member, who might be going away to school or moving to another state to start a new job, or getting married, or dealing with a serious illness, or……………..?”

Vulnerable Masculinity: Kitchen Table Spirituality

As a young man at parties, I often gravitated to the kitchen to hang out with the women. As I remember it, they seemed to go deeper than the macho world us guys inhabited.

By deeper I mean able to be vulnerable enough to express the things that were troubling, stuff we hadn’t figured out and were wrestling with. Women seemed to do this naturally. Thankfully, through the years, I did find a few guys that were comfortable in these scary and culturally off-limits places for men.

One of these safe places to be the vulnerable warrior with an exposed Achilles heel is in the groups to which I belong as part of the Illuman men’s organization – a male spirituality process that grew out of the pioneering men’s work of Richard Rohr.

You can read more about this on my website.

Jimi Hendrix (& Tom) on Mary Magdalene

The Wind Cries Mary – Jimi Hendrix

Knowing that Jimi wrote a poem about Mary (see “The Story of Life” further down), I re-listened to his “The Wind Cries Mary” and offer some reflections [in brackets] for your consideration…

THE WIND CRIES MARY

After all jacks are in their boxes

And the clowns have all gone to bed

You can hear happiness staggering on down the street

Footprints dressed in red

[the religious and political leaders (“clowns”, “jacks”) with bloodstained feet are rejoicing that their “problem” (Jesus) has been eliminated]

And the wind whispers Mary

[“wind” is a common metaphor for Spirit – here the Spirit whispers her name]

A broom is drearily sweeping

Up the broken pieces of yesterday's life

Somewhere a queen is weeping

Somewhere a king has no wife

[“broken pieces of yesterday's life: the old – Mary’s & everyone else’s - has gone, the new is about to be risen…]

[“queen” could be Pilate’s wife who, after having a dream about Jesus, sends Pilate a message urging the ruler to release him]

And the wind, it cries Mary

[“Cries” – a now more forceful Spirit utterance…Mary hears it in her heart of hearts…and waits…]

The traffic lights they turn a blue tomorrow

And shine their emptiness down on my bed

The tiny island sags downstream

'Cause the life that they lived is dead

[“'Cause the life that they lived is dead” – a rephrasing of “broken pieces of yesterday’s life” – the new life of the risen Jesus replaces what came before – the old life]

And the wind screams Mary

[“screams” – Spirit is even more forceful, more demanding…more inviting…and Mary waits…by the tomb…]

Will the wind ever remember?

The names it has blown in the past

And with its crutch, its old age and its wisdom

It whispers "no, this will be the last"

And the wind cries Mary

[Over 2,000 years of history – and the winds of time - attest that because of Mary’s courage and faithfulness, her carrying of Jesus’ message to the apostles, that, “YES, this will NOT be the end of this message of love and reconciliation]

[finally, recognizing the person she thought to be the gardener, Mary’s eyes receive Jesus’ loving gaze, as he gently whispers her name…]

Let me know what you think of these reflections…

On the night before he died…he took paper and blessed it with words…words that he never got to sing…Jimi’s farewell poem – “The Story of Life”

These would be Jimi's last lyrics - composed in London, 17th of September 1970 – the night before he died. Later, Curtis Knight, who co-wrote songs with Jimi, recorded a version of “The Story of Life.”

The Story of Life – by Jimi Hendrix and Curtis Knight. A Prophetic But Long-Forgotten Song

The Story of Life - Jimi Hendrix

THE STORY OF LIFE

The story of Jesus

So easy to explain

After they crucified him,

A woman, she claimed his name

The story of Jesus

The whole Bible knows

Went all across the desert

And in the middle, he found a rose

There should be no questions

There should be no lies

He was married ever happily after

All the tears we cry

No use in arguing

All the use to the man that moans

When each man falls in battle

His soul it has to roam

Angles of heaven

Flying saucers to some,

Made Easter Sunday

The name of the rising sun

The story is written

By so many people who dared,

To lay down the truth

To so very many who cared

To carry the cross

Of Jesus and beyond

We will guide the light

This time with a woman in our arms

We as men

Can't explain the reason why

The woman's always mentioned

At the moment that we die

All we know

Is God is by our side,

And he says the word

So easy yet so hard

I wish not to be alone,

So I must respect my other heart

Oh, the story

Of Jesus is the story

Of you and me

No use in feeling lonely,

I am searching to be free

The story

Of life is quicker

Than the wink of an eye

The story of love

Is hello and goodbye

Until we meet again

Mary in songs and a movie

Go Tell the World (Mary Magdalene's Song) – Philippa Hanna

--be sure to read the songwriter’s testimony

Lights of Magdala – Kris Kristofferson

Mary Magdalene Movie Trailer

Regardless of its historical accuracy, this portrayal shows a courageous woman facing her fears and the social restrictions her society imposed on her because she was a woman.

As I’ve written before, the literal, black & white versions of sacred texts can only take us so far. To go deeper into the heart level of Mysteries, we need the help of mystics who offer themselves as artists, writers, sculptors, poets, musicians and other storytellers.

“The Kingdom of G-d is like…”

…a musician looking for his soul…



Rev. Dr. Cynthia Bourgeault on Mary as a wisdom figure

Rev. Dr. Cynthia Bourgeault talks about her book – “THE MEANING OF MARY MAGDALENE”

Jesus and Mary Magdalene: Wisdom Teachers – Rev. Dr. Cynthia Bourgeault



Mirabai Starr on Mary as prophet

Inviting Mary Magdalene into the Altar of Your Heart: Insights into a Woman Prophet + Guided Visualization with Mirabai Starr

Sr. Joan Chittister on Mary as faithful friend

The friend of Jesus – Sr. Joan Chittister

--an article about friendship &, in particular, the one between Mary and Jesus. The icon of the saint is below.



An Easter Message – Sr. Joan Chittister

“Easter confronts us with the greatest challenge of them all: faith in darkness. Just because we know that what we’re doing is right does not mean that it will be easy. It certainly does not mean that even our best efforts will prevail. It finally does not mean that what we live for will happen in our lifetime.”

“Mary Magdalene is our model. She was one of the women who, according to Luke’s Gospel, ‘followed Jesus, supporting him out of their own substance.’ She banked her whole life on the fact that the vision of this Jesus would come to fullness.”

“Sisters of True Charity” on Mary as friend of G-d and prophet

In the News - Nuns on the Bus, July 24, 2016

--article presents women religious who are actively working for peace and justice. It fits in with this post in that it includes both a meditation on Mary Magdalene and artwork by Mary Southard, CSJ, whose quote opened my reflections.

Mary’s name used in vain & in pain

Joni Mitchell - The Magdalene Laundries (Live Toronto 1994)

--In the first 2:30 Joni begins by telling the story…

For over 230 years in Ireland, the church and government operated asylums for the reputed purpose of reforming women: prostitutes, rape victims, unwed mothers, those too pretty to look at (potential temptresses), and others deemed unfit for society. They named these places of slave labor “Magdalene,” incorrectly associating Mary with the “sinner” who anointed Jesus feet. At these workhouses, they labored long hours for free and were subjected to all forms of abuse by the nuns who acted like prison wardens. In many cases they were stripped of their very identities and given new names.

This horror became front page news in 1992 when the religious order (Sisters of Charity) that owned one of these places sold land to a developer who, subsequently, unearthed mass unmarked graves. The order could not produce death certificates for most of the bodies. Subsequently, all of the religious orders involved have refused to disclose records or contribute to the victims compensation fund established by the government.

"And you never ask questions

When God's on your side"

--Bob Dylan

Wikipedia Article

How Ireland Turned ‘Fallen Women’ Into Slaves (history.com-2018)

These Women Survived Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries. They’re Ready to Talk. (NY Times-2018)

Pro-life Hypocrisy

The above article points out the inconsistency of Ireland’s pro-life policies. While they maintained a constitutional ban on abortion until 2018, they also supported these horror houses and “the systemic practice of forced and illegal adoptions, often without records, which preserved an illusion of Catholic chastity while depriving unwed mothers of their children and children of their birth identities.” See next link.

Irish Leader Apologizes for Adoptions That ‘Robbed Children’ of Their Identity (NY Times-2018)

Another reminder about the need to reform our American penal system with its profit-driven, retributive justice model – that’s historically ineffective.



Liberation Theology



Deserving a post of its own, here’s a short meditation that helps provide some context to the themes of this post about Mary Magdalene.

Liberation Theology Sunday, March 20, 2016

One of the great themes of the Bible, which begins in the Hebrew Scriptures and is continued in Jesus and Paul, is called “the preferential option for the poor”; I call it “the bias toward the bottom.” We see the beginnings of this theme about 1200 years before Christ with an enslaved people in Egypt. Through their history God chooses to engage humanity in a social and long-standing conversation. The Hebrew people’s exodus out of slavery, through twists and turns and dead ends, finally brings them to the Promised Land, eventually called Israel. This is a standing archetype of the perennial spiritual journey from entrapment to liberation. It is the universal story.

Moses, himself a man at “the bottom” (a murderer on the run and caring for his father-in-law’s sheep), first encounters God in a burning bush (Exodus 3:2). Like so many initial religious experiences, this happens while Moses is alone—externally and interiorly. The encounter is nature-based and transcendent at the same time: “Take off your shoes; this is holy ground” (see Exodus 3:5). This religious experience is immediately followed by a call to a very costly social concern for Moses’ own oppressed people, whom he had not cared about up to then. God said, “I have heard the groaning of my people in Egypt. You, Moses, are to go confront the Pharaoh and tell him to let my people go” (see Exodus 3:9-10).

There, at the very beginning of the Judeo-Christian tradition, is the perfect integration of action and contemplation. First, the transformative experience takes place through the burning bush. Immediately it has social, economic, historical, and political implications. How did we ever lose sight of this when our Scriptures and tradition begin this way? The connection is clear.

There is no authentic God experience that does not situate you in the world in a very different way. After an encounter with True Presence you see things quite differently, and it gives you freedom from your usual loyalties and low-level payoffs—the system that gave you your security, your status, your economics, and your very identity. Your screen of life expands exponentially. This transformation has costly consequences. Moses had to leave Pharaoh’s palace to ask new questions and become the liberator of his people.

I believe the Exodus story is the root of all liberation theology, which Jesus fully teaches and exemplifies, especially in the three synoptic Gospels (see Luke 4:18-19). Jesus is primarily a healer of the poor and powerless. That we do not even notice this reveals our blindness to Jesus’ obvious bias.

Liberation theology focuses on freeing people from religious, political, social, and economic oppression (i.e., what Pope John Paul II called “structural sin” and “institutional evil”). It goes beyond just trying to free individuals from their own particular “naughty behaviors,” which is what sin now seems to mean to most people in our individualistic culture. Structural sin is accepted as good and necessary on the corporate or national level. Large organizations—including the Church—and governments get away with and are even applauded for killing (war), greed, vanity, pride, and ambition. Yet individuals are condemned for committing these same sins. Such a convenient split will never create great people, nations, or religions.

Liberation theology, instead of legitimating the self-serving status quo, tries to read reality, history, and the Bible not from the side of the powerful, but from the side of the pain. Its beginning point is not sin management, but “Where is the suffering?” Our starting point makes all the difference in how we read the Bible. Jesus spends little time trying to ferret out sinners or impose purity codes in any form. He just goes where the pain is. I dare you to try to disprove that.

Resource for Sacred Feminine Spirituality

Mother's Day & the Sacred Feminine in the World's Spiritual Traditions


PLAYLIST FOR SONGS IN THIS POST

Benediction…

…Pax, Pais, Paz, Peace…

tOM

#art #music #JanetMcKenzie #MarySouthard #RichardRohr #MaryMagdalene #WesNisker #ThomasMerton #WilliamPaulYoung #Krishna #Ganesha #Gandhi #Illuman #vulnerability #JimiHendrix #CurtisKnight #PhilippaHanna #KrisKristofferson #CynthiaBourgeault #MirabaiStarr #JoanChittister #JoniMitchell #MagdaleneLaundries #BobDylan #LiberationTheology

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