MARY’S DRESS

BANK HOLIDAY weekend affords a happy extension to “left brain time.” There are always more books I want to read, more paintings I want to paint, more photographs I want to make, more writing to be done, more poems to unfold, more prayer to be celebrated, more people to share some time and stories with, more songs to be sung, more colours to be marvelled at, more silence to be revelled in – than time ordinarily allows. And that very fact is cause for thanksgiving! Life is indeed a rich tapestry. The signs of the reign, the joy of God, are all around me. And I’m immensely thankful for the connections that blogging makes possible with people all around the world.

Today’s artwork is inspired, in Eastertide, by Mary Magdalene, beloved apostle of Jesus, first witness to new life in the Resurrection, loyal provider of intimate and loving support and sustenance, someone generous, open-hearted and giving, someone who just “knew” instinctively, what Jesus’ mission on earth was about, someone released, by God’s goodness, from the kind of prison every one of us finds ourselves in from time to time.

All human persons are “bedevilled” by “Legion” the perpetually underlying and taunting belief that somehow we’re failing to make the grade, we’re unlovable, bigger and better “failures” than anyone else, destined to be “alone”, faithless, heartbroken, misunderstood, wretched. All human persons yearn for the kind of release that Jesus’ love and acceptance brought about in Mary’s life; for the kind of release that she brought about in his.

Mary Magdalene: someone cruelly maligned and abused by religious patriarchy and misogyny across the centuries, but all the while someone I’ve admired and looked to as an icon of life’s richness and fullness, of life’s goodness and generosity, of life’s being – under the vivifying reign of God – a beautifully, colourfully, gorgeously dressed dance with our Creator.

Sydney Carter described Jesus as The Lord of the Dance. In my heart I think of Mary of Magdala as Jesus’ dance-partner and she is clothed, dressed, like the environment all around and about her, in colour and glory. And theirs is a partnership, theirs is a dance that, far from being exclusive and excluding, invites you and I to join. “Shall we dance?”, Mary asks. “And shall we sing?”, asks the Lord of the Dance. And sometimes the colours blur a little in the swirling. And sometimes they’re blended by our tears …

Have you seen the wonder of it? Have you seen Mary’s dress?

OF COURSE I’LL TELL YOU

WELL OF COURSE I’ll tell you what I’ve been reading all day on this grey, drizzly, English Bank Holiday Easter Monday. Be glad to. You know that! It’s just that, hang on a minute, what was I saying, oh, yeah, reading. Of course I’d like to tell you. It’s just that, for the life of me, I can’t remember.

MIXED ECONOMY

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BANK HOLIDAY WEEKENDS are rarely, if ever, what everyone hopes for. I’ve always enjoyed them though, probably because I’m content not to set the bar too high. This kind of a day, a no commitments kind of day, frees up heart and soul and mind and body to do what a beloved late Aunt of mine used to call “a bit of this and that”. This kind of a day finds multifarious degrees of contentment in sunshine or in rain.

A bit of catching up on sleep, a longer than usual phone call with my Mum, a bit of drawing / painting / photography. Some mooching around the garden in between the showers, time to cogitate and meditate, and the early pages of Michael Ramsey prize-winning Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies by David Bentley Hart, words from whose Introduction hearten and encourage me to discover what he has to say:

I make no attempt here to convert anyone to anything. Indeed, the issue of my personal belief or disbelief is quite irrelevant to – and would be surprisingly unilluminating of – my argument …

Funny thing is that I’m quite frequently “converted” by non-aggressive conversation or writing – and almost always turned off by those who, with a gleam in their eye and that “certain kind of a smile”, are patently determined to “convert” me to one of their theories in the shortest time it could possibly take them. The kind of metanoia or “conversion” I’m so much more interested in is very much more like Bank Holiday weekends. Mixed economy. Time and space for a turning around through 360 degrees. Time and space to see things in a new way. Time to wake up and smell the coffee, time to sleep and wake up to the scent of a light drizzle on flower petals in the garden. Time to discover, as Maggi Dawn tweeted earlier today: “I can’t believe I just slept for 14 hours. I didn’t know it was humanly possible.”

This kind of “repentance”, this kind of “conversion” ought to be routinely incorporated into our Growth Action Planning. Indeed I wonder whether another name for the mixed economy of a Bank Holiday Weekend might be “prayer”.