The Three Days of Grief – a fictional account from the point of view of Mary Magdalene
I just can’t believe it! They’ve really killed him. He’s dead. How could God have allowed it? He was so special. Some of the others say that he’s the messiah, I don’t know if that’s true or not, I only know that he was the most wonderful person I’ve ever met. I wasn’t in love with him or anything like that, he was too special for that. I just couldn’t help responding to his amazing kindness. Nobody had ever been kind to me before, I was used to being someone who everyone tried to pretend didn’t exist.
And then he came along and entered my emptiness and suddenly there was colour in my world. I came to know what it is to be loved and cared about. For the first time in my life I mattered. How could I matter to him? When he was so good and perfect and I was numbered among the ‘unclean’. To everyone else I was just a bit of dirt, to sweep away at passover with all the other crumbs and ensure the house is clean. And he made it clear that to him I was as important as Peter or John. And now he’s GONE. And my life is empty again. All the colour is gone.
That’s what it was like before I met him. Everything was colourless and dull, shot through with the strong colours of sheer horror. Never the light of the sun, never the brightness of happiness. All just grey and horror. When he came it was like the sun came out. And I blossomed like a flower. And now all my petals are closing and and the flower is dying. Does my life just have to go back to the way it was? Will anyone remember that he treated me as a person like anyone else or will I become a non-person again? I just can’t bear it!
I’m still allowed amongst the others at the moment. They’re all hiding in the upper room of a house, where they had supper with him just before it all happened. They let me be with them but I’m trying not to be noticed. If they notice me they might throw me out – and then I’ll have nothing.
Mary came over to speak to me, the other Mary, his mother. She’s nice, not like the others. Kind. She asked me if I’d help her to prepare some simple kind of food. Its not easy for any of us to eat when we feel like this. The most amazing food would taste like straw now. But we have to eat somehow so Mary thinks we should do something simple. And it would be good to have something to do.
We made some bread. We’re not supposed to, no work on the Sabbath that’s the rule, but He said that was less important than caring for ourselves and others. It was good, working together in our mutual unhappiness. It lifted the feelings a bit, unhappiness is better than misery. Kneading dough was good too, I hadn’t realised how angry I was until I took it out on a lump of dough. He talked about women making bread, said the Kingdom of heaven was like bread, the way a tiny bit of yeast can rise a whole baking. Oh, he understood even the endless tasks that women have to do. He cared about everything! Today though we made unleavened bread, we’ve lost track of time so much we can’t remember whether we’re allowed yeast bread yet or not, its not allowed at Passover.
We took the bread in to everyone to share. John found some wine and then Peter remembered what he had said about bread and wine. That each time they break bread or drink wine they should do so in his name and remember him. Peter picked up the bread and said, ‘He said the bread was his body, and that when we eat it we should remember him, let this bread be his body too and let us eat it in his name’. And he passed the bread bowl around. Then he picked up the wine jug and said, ‘He said the wine was his blood, and that when we drink it we should remember him, let this wine be his blood too and let us drink it in his name’. And he passed the wine around too. Everyone was crying now, not just me.
They passed the bread and wine to me too! It was James, he was sitting next to me and when it came to him he simply passed it on as if I was one on of them. Oh, the Lord’s blessing on you James! I didn’t expect to be included in this remembering him in the meal. I’m just the servant who does the work, and I was treated as one of the group! Oh dear, I’ve been using my headscarf to wipe my eyes and even to blow my nose and its all horrid now. I’ll never manage to behave like a respectable Jewish woman. Oh, but he would have understood!
The other Mary came and took my arm, ‘come’, she said, ‘lets go and find somewhere to clean up’. She took me out the to the back of the house where there was a pitcher of water and poured some for me to wash my face with. I don’t know how she manages it, how can she be so caring when she must be in terrible distress too? I washed my scarf out too and we wrung it out together. Luckily its warm enough today it will dry quickly if I can manage to stop crying all over it.
Mary suggested I try to have a bit of a sleep and by the time I wake up my scarf will be dry. She’s right of course and I am exhausted but I can’t imagine sleeping. She said she’d had a word with the men and they had arranged a corner where we could have some privacy to sleep. So we laid down. To my surprise I did sleep.
* * * *
Morning at last. It seemed a really long night. I kept waking up, but seeing the other Mary just close by was comforting and I was able to just lie still and remember him. It’s really early. Only just light. That colourless time before the sun comes up. It matches the way I feel. Mary had said we should go this morning to clean him and lay out his body. We couldn’t do it before or we’d have been unclean for the Sabbath. I woke her as gently as I could, she had been awake most of the night and had finally fallen asleep.
We went to the garden where Joseph had had him put. He’s a good man Joseph. He comes from Arimathea and he’s quite wealthy and important but he followed our Lord too. He had been able to persuade Pilate to release his body, its not usually allowed for someone whose been killed as a criminal. Aghh, our beloved Lord a criminal, how could they have done it! Anyway, Joseph got his body and he had had a tomb already prepared for when he dies himself but as he doesn’t need it yet he allowed the men to put our Lord there. Blessings on him for his kindness.
When we got to the garden there was no-one there. The others had warned us there would be soldiers as the priests had asked Pilate to put a guard so that no-one could take the body away and say he was still alive. But there weren’t any soldiers. No-one at all. That eery early morning silence as if Mary and I were the only people in the world.
The tomb was round a sort of corner, behind some bushes. We went round the bushes and stopped, stunned. We hadn’t known how we would move the stone away from the tomb, we had thought to ask the soldiers to help us but as there weren’t any there we had no-one to ask. But the stone had already been rolled aside. We couldn’t understand what had happened. We were very fearful but we went forward, we had to do what we had come to do. We couldn’t leave his poor body in all its filth and blood any longer. We wanted to clean him up and anoint his body with sweet oils. So we went into the tomb.
Its EMPTY. There’s no body there. What have they done with our Lord? Who’s stolen his body away? How could they do this to us? There were tears pouring down our faces. We are just poor women who wanted to do right by our beloved Lord and master. He who they had killed as criminal but who we knew to be better and more Godly than all their priests and pharisees. They had done this, those cruel ones, they must have done. No-one else would take our Lord away from us. They’ve already taken his life, now they have to take his body as well. Oooooogh!
Mary and I stood there with our arms around each other crying and howling. Nothing could have been so dreadful as this. It was the final misery for us. We couldn’t even be allowed to honour our Lord in his death.
Eventually we turned away. We had to go and tell the others what we had found. My poor old headscarf was soaking again and I’d be ashamed to be seen in public. At least its so early there isn’t likely to be anyone much around.
Oh, there is someone though, it must be the gardener. We rushed up to him. ‘Sir, ‘we asked, ‘do you know where they’ve taken him? Our Lord who was buried here on Friday?’ ‘Please Sir, if you know, please tell us so that we can clean and anoint him for his death? ‘ We were crying again, but somehow, seeing him, we had felt new hope.
‘Mary’, he said to me. And suddenly I recognised him. I fell to my knees. ‘Rabbi’, I cried in joy, for that was what I called him, for he was the teacher of my soul. I was so overjoyed I couldn’t really take in what he said but I knew he wanted me to tell the others that he was still alive and that he would come to them. Then he was gone and we were left in glorious happiness. Our Lord and teacher is still with us.
We rushed off to tell the others. Over the following days he came to meet with our group a number of times before he was taken off to heaven by angels to be with God his father. But now we knew he would be with us forever and the priests and the soldiers can’t do anything about it. And I am his forever so I need never feel myself to be a not-person again. He has told me he loves me and I belong to him now. So I don’t need to hide in corners any more. I can be me, myself, Mary of Magdala, beloved of the Lord. Isn’t it wonderful!
He said he came to give us life, that we might have it to the full. And he has given me my life. And I give it to him so that I can always belong, and always be beloved.
Praise to him!