Rescuing Jesus: Lost in Translation ~ Letter from a rebel child
Take a walk with me through a sanctuary garden in Santa Cruz, California
The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments. On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.” (Lk 23:53-56).
Saturday of Holy Week
My Dearest Lord,
Lord, I am no one to rescue you,
who have rescued me.
But if I fancied myself a woman with spices and rose petals
after resting on today’s Sabbath,
I would come to the tomb with my sister Mary Magdalene and the other women.
And before anyone else had a chance to make up stories about you,
we would share the ones we know about who you are
and spread them like wildflower seeds throughout the land.
We would take those burial clothes that you carefully folded
and make ourselves bracelets of white linen
to remember the reason for the death was new life.
Oh…I know I know you say to forgive us, because
we know not what we do (reference: first sentence)
And, I also have no idea who you are – really.
We try, oh yes we try.
But mostly when I go to your houses
I have a hard time finding you
which sometimes makes it hard
to find you for weeks on end…but I know you are there.
In here. In this interior sanctuary your Mother knit for me
called – the temple of the heart.
Lord, when going to the tomb,
the women at first didn’t know where you went –
but then that happy Angel told them
but no one believed them,
which does not change that women were the first
to preach the risen Lord.
Mary Magdalena, my sister
was worried at first, until you as the Gardener of life,
came to reveal the bloom of you in full risen splendor.
I always imagine her joy in that moment.
I bet you loved that so very much. Good choice.
But…they didn’t believe her either, can you believe that?
And now Oh Lord, I don’t know where they have laid your
story. The white linen of your story is on the altar,
but many of us don’t make it to the communion table…
but…but…Jesus said, Do this in rememberance of me
so why can’t we all go to the table when we are hungry for you?
We are not qualified? You dined with thieves and tax collectors
and prostitutes but the common man or woman cannot eat
the bread of life and the cup of forgiveness? (excuse me, I digress)
The good news you told us about, seems lost in translation.
Laws and views and beliefs and principles that
line up here and there with someone’s Bible study class decisions
or councils of elders. They even sanction war! You who were non-violent-
well, except for that time you tore up the money changers scene,
I do so love it when you do that. We could use a little of that now,
my friends are losing their homes, their jobs, their savings,
seems those money changers got new jobs, different suits, same jobs.
The decisions about how your houses are run are made by men mostly,
women feel more than left out, many women just, walk out.
How do we who walked, clutching you to our breast,
find you again? We have to hold on REALLY tight.
You DID choose women in your own work and that
at least is clear and written.
And I know from my own Bible studies
that you set women, as well as men, free from bondage.
That you broke our taboos and untied our fetters.
You were not made unclean from a bleeding woman,
you did not condemn the condemned, you invited
those from other faiths to your table, you were annointed
for burial by a woman, your ministry was often financed
by women, and yes, you CHOSE to appear to the Magdalena,
first. And you were born of woman! And, you gave your mother
to us as our mother, as the third one of your seven sentences
on the cross. I cannot thank you enough for that…
Can you believe, Dear Lord, we have more human slavery now,
than ever before in history…mostly women and children.
I offer this up to you in prayer for the weight of it would
break my heart if you did not prop it up again with
unreasonable hope. Thank God for that relentless hope.
I want to rescue you, myself.
I know I am no one to rescue God
and that is how I get in so much trouble
by having conversations like this, not with you
of course, but with other people who don’t understand
your rebel children who love you but often
hide in the closet.
Note to self: I should make http://www.closetjesuslovers.com
There are a lot of us in here sitting in this dark closet whispering
psalms of compassion and knitting revolution into our Christmas stockings
while sniffing the hems of scented garments and golden fringe.
My mother the mystic says your name is
said another way…a name no one has been speaking.
You answer to Jesus and Lord because you know
our voices and we know yours…but the name
is another one all together. She told it to me
and I speak it now only sometimes, like right now ( )
but do not dare to write it here. Yet. She says,
We can breathe your name.
(More on this in another letter.)
I must rescue you for myself daily
from church and government and worse of all,
my own lack of faith.
May I say, that I take comfort in your words to the thief
who hung beside you on his own cross,
You told him that on that very day, he would be with you in paradise.
Your second sentence, if that is not good news I don’t know what is.
I must rescue you because my heart requires me to
otherwise I lose you. Lose your medicine.
What is that I hear? Whispering now…
Oh. Someone wants to know why you need to be rescued.
You don’t. But maybe the story does.
Surrounded by other stories that hide the real story.
I am not qualified for the job of rescuing your story –
don’t worry. I will leave that to someone else, I…..think.
I cannot say for sure, I know what your story really is,
but I feel it doesn’t feel like
many of these ones we are telling – otherwise why are all the stories different?
The core story, from the Gospels is the same but
we all made up different meanings for what you meant.
Sigh. Sigh. Heave. Tear. Moan. Leaning into you for comfort now.
I don’t claim to know very much about you…
I know about red paint and how it reminds me of your
mother’s sacred heart and your wounds and my cowgirl boots and pomegranates,
but I don’t really know about you.
But if I did… IF I HAD TO SAY SOMETHING,
If pressed to the wall with my life and I had to say something I think I know.
I would say this about that:
We are a world torn by suffering caused and suffering experienced.
All of us guilty and all of us innocent, somehow too.
You and your family knew that besides the sin of causing suffering to others,
our biggest challenge would be how we lived with ourselves once we
turned to the dark side of our hearts. How we punish ourselves
how we loathe who we are and what we have done –
it is how we end up BEING that causes us to cause more pain
and then how we cannot get off of our own meathooks.
And then how we think we have to pay for it and how impossible that is
or how it is our karma and how we have to work it out
or gain merits by being good and getting points that will never add up
and you could see, plainly as it is so plain to see,
we did not know how to solve the undoings of our doing,
ourselves. And that is why we needed you.
And so…as the story goes…you died for us – a deep mystery.
A redemption-making-ritual that opened life with death.
Now some folks feel squeemish about that old rugged cross. I don’t.
For me knowing that you went through hell, even though you are God,
somehow soothes the reality that so many of us here are dying
deaths as bad as that, wrongly accused, killed by our own leaders.
And with our own mothers watching. And your Mama,
she too went through hell
witnessing the death of her child. I wonder if that is not worse
than death itself. Any mother I know would rather die than have her
child die. And so in Mary’s grief, our grief is known and held.
I wonder if she had any idea what she would go through by
Saying Yes to God.
You overcame death.
And in so doing, you released, dispensed, made open, made available,
poured forth the balm of healing: forgiveness.
The key? We ask you for it.
You made it available to ALL on earth. You withheld it from no one.
You opened the WAY out and the WAY IN.
The only thing is, if we don’t ask you
we are still subject to the other natural qualities of guilt and shame
and laws of reaping and sowing and karmic debt.
It is in the humbled asking that you open our hearts
and let the light in. Otherwise we still think we can solve it ourselves.
I am afraid we aren’t doing a very good job of that, Sweet Jesus!
I know you know, that I spend my days with the stories of women
and I know you also know, that our plague here continues to be:
We feel horrible about who we are. Not enough. And unworthy.
Somehow, the institutions that call you Lord even as I call you Lord
contribute to that and my, but this not cherishing ourselves
is a hard one to shake off – see how it makes us act?
That is the worst. Small. Insignificant. Unwilling to act.
Speechless. Belittled. Irrelevant. A plague of nobodyness.
We don’t even feel good enough to be good. How bad is that?
I do not think this is what you meant by “deny yourself”,
it must not be, as the fruit of following you is certainly different
than a woman who loathes her very flesh because
of the harm she has experienced. How does she deny herself?
Or a man who cannot let himself be loved because he was not
loved enough and so does not love.
Now I am getting in over my head and better sign off before
I get into more trouble than I already am.
Oh Lord we are in a HEAP of trouble. Not like I need to tell you.
Your Mama wipes our fevered brows
with the red hem of her ever renewing garment.
I keep expecting it to be threadbear but it never is
though sometimes a find a red thread left on my tear sopped pillow.
I mean no judgment against others, how quickly I go to blame.
See how we are? Always pointing fingers. How to know we are guilty
of these crimes and then ask for forgiveness, move on and be better
next time? How do we both forgive, and hold accountable those
who harm us? This is another mystery I look forward to you explaining
next time we have all the time in the world to discuss the nature
of your universe and how it works and how wonderous your works.
Knowing I judge others when I should not, does not make me less mad
about the bizarre injustices done in your name. The only thing I think
I am all right to do in your name is pray and that is about it.
I do believe, though I know very little else on this earth.
I do believe this:
You brought us the medicine of forgiveness.
When we ask you for it, and believe it is so,
You take it from us and our karma is released.
We have to remember, and have faith that you have done so
when the memory of that crime haunts us and accuses,
in order to “feel” the healing. But the deed is done.
You have taken it away so that
we might be free enough to be good if we are able.
So that we might love our neighbor as ourselves –
and if we are so busy about the business of being wrong
and guilty, how then can we lift our face from our sorry porridge
instead of cleaning the debris from our neighbors yard
from last night’s hurricane?
I don’t think wanting to rescue you is pride or blaspheming
but if it is, your mother can wash my mouth out with soap.
My plan had been to write you a few lines in honor of today,
of this Holy Week where I have eaten cake and drunken beer
and been almost all together unruly and unsightly.
When I was at house
of the Orthodox, I did much better being pressed in the fold,
my face had little creases in it because I pressed so hard into the
incense infused fabric of your holy church. I admit, I miss it.
Now that I am in the outer courts there is much more
trouble for me to get into. But still.
You’re my story and I am sticking to it.
Walking in your garden I know you are here
and that you have said:
I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you,
and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete
and overflowing. John 15: 11
Signed with Love and Overflowing,
Your Sister and Friend and Fan Club Member,
p.s. I hope this letter is not lost in translation.
p.p.s. I am going to have morning tea now at the Red Thread Cafe, and I shall pour a cup for you, which you first poured for me.