THE RESURRECTION LIFE – loving and living and dying and rising …
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?
EASTER HOLIDAYS, I suppose rather obviously, occasion a procession of thoughts about resurrection, about new life and the way it arises and surprises – leaping out of roundedness and edginess and colour. Holidays become holy days and the art and craft of Life come much more clearly – and frequently – into focus. As the lovely hymn has it: “Colours of day dawn into the mind, the sun has come up, the night is behind.”
Easter’s wonderful, and it’s great that Easter Sunday stretches onwards into Eastertide. Resurrection shapes and moulds me, calling me both inwards and upwards, downwards, outwards and sideways, beckoning me into fuller, freer use of the great gift of imagination, and into the times and places of rich and iridescent colour, in contemplation and in meditation, in people and in prayer, in books and in art, in hymnody and psalmody, in human creativity, in food and drink, in love and laughter, in freshly laundered soft cotton clothes, in divinely fashioned lakes and trees and sky and flowers. Easter reaches me, touches me, heals me; the Risen Jesus models for me a person possessed of both roundedness and edge, a person who loves enough and is quietened often enough to make of every day a holy day. I’ll try to be a more observant disciple.
WHAT A FABULOUS WAY to draw a sunshiney April to its close. A wonderful Easter celebration here in Bramhall, with Easter holidays richly blessed by bright blue skies, if still just a little chilly. Once again St Michael’s was further blessed by the handiwork of our local angels and the Resurrection Day dawned for us in a sea of colour, scent and glory, many of us having had our hearts and lives rekindled by the light and warmth of Saturday’s Easter Fire, in our gloriously renovated and restored tower. Easter liturgy in St Michael’s is such a joy.
And then on, in heart and mind, to Westminster on Friday morning. I make no secret of the fact that I’m given to tears at the drop of a hat. Family and friends joke that I’m the only man known to them who’s able to cry about some of the more tranquil scenes in Postman Pat. So I probably don’t need to give much of an account of myself as the strains of Sir Hubert Parry’s incomparable “I was glad” soared into the vaults of Westminster Abbey’s heights (via our TV screen) save to say that I was well-nigh overwhelmed.
The new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will have drawn millions of well-wishing hearts to themselves. Their siblings looked as though they were glad to go into the House of the Lord for this most marvellous of events, and happy dispositions gladdened hearts all over the world. The inspired bringing-in of the trees and other magnificent Abbey decorations, the attendants, the bells, the choirs, the clergy, the carriages, the orchestra, the organ, the bride and groom’s own prayer, the precision, the trumpeters, the liveried uniforms, William Walton’s Crown Imperial – and I must mention the gloriously inspirational television photography – all of it lifted my soul.
Resurrection! New Life. New Start. New Heart. As we now begin to look forward to the Feast of Pentecost we are already richly inspirited. God bless William and Catherine. God bless James William and Susan who were married here in St Michael’s earlier today. God bless the New Hope already rekindled in Church and Nation. For many rich and abundant blessings the people of St Michael & All Angels in Bramhall have cause to say THANKS BE TO GOD!
for May Parish News