Mary Magdalene ran


Mary Magdalene ran.

She had worn prostitution on her sleeve, on the top of her mind and in her face, always. Since she was 13, since the men first wanted her, since she first learned to know that her body was to be used up, since she knew the contempt of every woman everywhere and all the men who weren’t currently in her tent under cover of darkness. After those things came, she had become a prostitute not just in profession, but in soul. She was nothing if not a whore. She felt the body of a whore carry her around. She saw the body of a whore bathing in the river. Her hair was whore’s hair, her knees whore’s knees, her fingernails were whore’s fingernails. She opened her mouth to speak a word, and every word was first the word of a whore and next the word of a woman and after that, down the line somewhere, the words of somebody who had once desired to be clean.

Photo by Emiliano Vittoriosi on Unsplash

She was the one who lurked and enticed men to betray their wives or their youths. She was the one who secretly despised their weakness, who laughed at them. She was the one whose laughter had a hard edge of bitterness from the knowledge that even in their weakness, they were stronger than she—their wives would still be home waiting. She hated them in their strength and their weakness. This was the skin she wore and the heart her skin housed—until the day He came.

Mary Magdalene sat.

She heard him speak words and saw his face. Everything had been different at once when he looked at her; that first word from his mouth and she was his forever. Her whore’s knees had become the knees of a worshiper, her whore’s hair had become the hair of a worshiper, her words were no longer whore’s words but the words that come out of a worshiper. His gaze had stripped away the self she thought was intrinsic to her existence—in the moment, she thought surely she’d die before she could take another breath. But as her worshiper’s lungs filled with air and her worshiper’s eyes locked onto him, she understood suddenly and with a press of joy almost delirious that the whore was gone and that she was not dead. Now she would wear a new skin and the heart her skin housed would also be new.

Mary Magdalene ran.

She had come dry-eyed to the tomb in the dark. Jesus was dead. She’d fumbled over broken bits of rock and scraggly growth along the path, driven by the new skin and new heart to sit by the stone door of the tomb and be near death. She hadn’t eaten or slept to speak of since that day on the hill. A nightmare sense of unreality still lived among all the disciples; like shadows they passed each other in streets and holed up in homes.

She had no home to hole up in, no family to be in a bunker with. Mourning alone was the only activity she could imagine in the early hours of the third day.

Her heart almost stopped when she saw that he was gone. The tomb was open, and why else would it be open except that they had come, for some new and wicked purpose of their own, to take away the only solace available to her?

Mary Magdalene ran.

She ran and stumbled back to town; without thinking she looked for Simon Peter and John; she found them. Broken sentences and now they knew too. She watched as they picked up their robes and ran.

Mary Magdalene walked.

Once more, she could imagine nothing else but a slow, weeping walk back to the tomb. She had no faith in these men, not to do anything about it. She knew what men were made of, all but Him. But at least they’d know, after their wild race down the path, that He was gone as she said and the woman’s work of weeping was the only thing left. They’d already been and gone by the time she crept into the clearing, so she sat down by the stone door in its new location and gave way to the work of tears.

Mary Magdalene looked.

She sat at the door for a time, but soon she became curious. She stooped down to look in, and stumbled away in shock before bending again. Two men stood inside. Not Peter and John.

“Woman, why are you weeping?” they said to her.

“They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”

Photo by Ari Erma on Unsplash

One of the men laughed. She pulled her head away from the entrance and turned around quickly then, because something (the snap of a twig? the sound of a breath? another laugh?) told her to.

Another man stood there. She began to feel like the butt of something—this gardener or somebody and those men inside knew something she didn’t know. They must have taken him themselves.

“Woman, why are you weeping?”

What a mocking question, just the sort of question men liked to ask. She fought the tears then as in moments of lost dignity she often had before. She thought perhaps she could convince them to stop this whole thing and undo it—put him back and go away. Maybe she was the perfect one to convince them.

“Sir,” and she wiped tears (but not all of them), “if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

And then the dawn came.

“Mary,” the man said.

Mary Magdalene ran.

Her arms were around his legs and her face was buried in his skirt, and a confused single word escaped from her. “Rabboni!” she cried, and he held her shoulders and laughed. She couldn’t bring herself to look at his face for long, but she would not let go of his feet or his hands for what seemed the longest time as she wept and tried to understand. She felt scars under her fingertips.

“Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father,” he finally said. He gave her the gravest, kindest, most joyful look she’d ever seen before; the glory of his face seemed to have multiplied somehow. He was so ready to go.

“Go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”

Mary Magdalene ran.

Leave a comment