by Danile Martens
John 20: 1-18
I have been thinking about this resurrection story lately in terms of the flow of life. I read it now thinking that Jesus was not so much saying "Don't touch me," as "Don't prevent me, don't hold on to what I was to you before. Something new is happening."
If change is the essence of life, something which I am learning to accept as true, then we must welcome, we must allow change, not only in ourselves but in those others who are put into our lives. Jesus as the chosen one had something new to be and do and the grief of Mary Magdalene could not alter that work. Nonetheless, Jesus lovingly meets her in her need and then points her to her new role. She will not be provider and support in the same ways. Her past that changed from so-called harlot and demon-possessed woman to disciple was now going to change again to witness of resurrection to Peter and John who would lead the church that came after. Holding on to her identity as the follower of and one who loved an itinerant preacher was not her future, no more than it was Jesus' destiny to remain that preacher.
And yet it is a beautiful story of love and grief and despair turned to joy that we all may resonate with at some point. When our daughter was diagnosed with a melanoma we knew that grief. I didn't know how to accept the possibility of her death even though I had already walked that path of death with others and knew that despair was not its ultimate ending. I could not imagine the flame of her lovely and loving life snuffed so prematurely. My faith in Love hung on only by a thread of humility and by the support and love of family and friends. We were reprieved that time, differently than Mary, but I fully identified with that rending, uncomprehending sorrow.
We remain human creatures bound to time and an impermanence we regret even as life spills us continuously forward into the new. This is our gift and our sorrow, to remember the loved, familiar past while being drawn (pushed?) into an unknown future, given by our loving creator that, in time, itself becomes precious. This is our faith. This is Life.