These past 2 days, the readings from scripture are centered around Mary Magdalene and her visit to the tomb. She is inconsolable, and wants to know where they have put the body of Jesus. She misses her friend, the friend she knew in the flesh. When he visits her in his resurrected form, she doesn’t recognize him. When he calls her by name, her vision becomes clear and she says, “Rabbouni,” which means teacher. Jesus then says to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.” She was holding on to him, in his fleshy form, in the way that she knew him. She was clinging to, and pining for, his pre-death form and presence.
In this way, Jesus cannot grow. He cannot become. He will always be what she knew him to be, in physical form. Yet, Jesus’ death and resurrection were meant to take what was and make it even more! He had more to give, beyond the physicality of his earthly existence!
How often do we cling to what we’ve known….about ourselves, about others, about God. We see what we’ve always seen and nothing more. Growth stops.
And yet, we are always growing. Always changing. Even at the cellular level, our cells shed and new ones take their place. Our skin is in a process of constant change.
We can look in the mirror and see the same old, same old. We can look at our partners and spouses and see the same old, same old. We can look at our co-workers and see the same old, same old. They never change. We never change. Or do we? Might these initial Easter days be an invitation to enter into and experience a newness of life? Of ourselves? Of God? Of others?
Over the past week, I have had the honor of sitting with a friend and several of my co-workers. They have shared with me their stories filled with the height and depth of emotions, and some very deep intimacy. I’ve heard about suicide, trauma, brokenness, and shame. I’ve also heard about hope, trust, companionship, and creativity! They remind me that I’m never really done getting to know them. They have much to tell me. They have much to teach me. I must let go of them as I have known them, and let them become who they are. Their intimate stories show me more authenticity, integrity, brutal honesty, and new life. They show me resiliency in the face of adversity and accusation. They show me that new life is a constant in this world and that I cannot hold on to them as I have known them. I’m deeply thankful for their confidence in me and for showing me more dimensions of the Easter resurrection.
They also hold a mirror up to me and remind me that I’m not finished yet either. I cannot hold on to myself as I’ve always known myself. There are times when I must let go of the things that are just not me anymore, and move into the new life that awaits me. Cells fall off. New cells grow. Old ways of knowing myself fall away. New ways of knowing who I am emerge. It’s the cycle of life, death and resurrection. I am thankful for the many Mary Magdalene moments that these people over the past few days have given me. To become more of me. They are truly Easter moments.