Learning to Love Again
An old friend from High School posted this photo on my Facebook page several months ago. I posted it again yesterday, for some reason. I don’t have many recent photos of me, and I’m not comfortable having them taken. Something moved me to share it, and the responses to it were very touching. One in particular really got me,
“What would the MaryAnn of today say to the MaryAnn back then?”
Whoa, what a loaded question.
Time alone doesn’t give perspective, but time coupled with inner work yields wisdom. People commented about how fresh and innocent I looked in the photo, but come on, I was only 17. The truth is, I wish I hadn’t strayed so far away from that innocence and freshness. I just didn’t know better then. What I was lacking inside was hidden in this picture and it had everything to do with self love and respect. The good news is, I have discovered that today, and it has changed the way I operate in the world.
I’m not sure when I began the great wonder about Mary Magdalene, but it was sometime after I left my traditional Lutheran upbringing. I had a powerful love for Jesus that I could never explain or justify, and the fact that he appeared to her after the resurrection, before the other disciples, always intrigued me. Then, the scene where she annoints his feet with costly perfume, wiping them dry with her hair. That is powerful intimacy, and I guess I longed for that too.
When I studied with the Christian mystics, some mysteries came alive for me. And then I knew. Mary Magdalene allowed herself to be transformed by love, and she did the inner work so she could remain in its resonance. Only love could be at the foot of the cross, where Mother Mary and John remained with her, and Jesus drew strength from it. Only love can bear some things, and raise them up again.
Kahlil Gibran wrote these words about what happened to Mary Magdalene when she first met Jesus:
“And then he looked at me, and the noontide of his eyes was upon me, and he said, “You have many lovers and yet I alone love you. Other men love themselves in your nearness. I love you in yourself. Other men see a beauty in you that shall fade away sooner than their own years. But I see in you a beauty that shall not fade away, and in the autumn of your days that beauty shall not be afraid to gaze at itself in the mirror, and it shall not be offended. I, alone, love the unseen in you.” Kahlil Gibran, Jesus.
Mary Magdalene had returned. Jesus welcomed her like a prodigal daughter and he welcomed me too. It gave me such hope because the message was so tremendous. Maria Valtorta captured why Jesus did this and it is astonishingly beautiful:
“The sinner is dead. And Mary is reborn, as beautiful as a modest girl, through her deep sorrow and her righteous love. She washed herself in her tears. And I solemnly tell you, oh Pharisee, that between this young man (John) who loves Me in the purity of his youth, and that woman who loves Me in the sincerity of repentance of a heart reborn to Grace, I make no difference. And to the Pure young man and the Repentant woman, I entrust the task of understanding My thought like no one else can, as well as the task of rendering the last honours to My Body, and the first greetings (I am not taking into account My Mother’s special greetings) when I will rise from the dead. ” Mary Magdalene, p.63
So Miko, this is what I would say to the young MaryAnn in the photo. What Jesus said to Mary Magdalene. I wonder what my life would have been if I felt that message at 17. Thanks for asking the question. http://youtu.be/_7Pqe68OcNA