Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Naming (John 20:15-16)

       He asked her, "Why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?"
      (Mary of Magdala) supposed it was the gardner, so she said, "Please, if you're the one who carried Jesus away, tell me where you've laid the body and I will take it away."
      Jesus said to her, "Mary!"
      She turned to him and said, "Rabboni!" 
(John 20:15-16)

Her heart was already broken. Her life already disrupted. What little peace remained to her was in taking care of the dead body. Yet even that little comfort had been stolen. All that was left was turmoil, tears, and bitterness. 

The dynamics surrounding Mary Magdalene richly mirror dynamics felt by so many in the queer community. The frustration, the disappointment, the turmoil, the tears all express the experience of queer folk in the face of patronizing heteronormative attitudes. We seek a little peace, but even in the early dawn we are hounded by the cries lifted up against us.

Like Mary we are not sure where to turn. All we can grasp is that the world doesn't make sense, but we cannot grasp how to make sense, or who can make sense. We cling to what we expected, only to come up empty handed in the face of the unexpected.

In the midst of her turmoil, Jesus names Mary. The naming is more than just recognition. It is granting identity, it is speaking to the heart of the life and saying I know you intimitely for I know the very foundation of what makes you who you are. 

I confess that when I'm lost in turmoil all I really want is someone to call my name. Someone to hold my hand, someone to embrace me, that I may know I'm not losing my mind, or have been so overwhelmed that I've slipped into a dream life and lost touch with my real life.

Mary Button's rendering of the scene as solidarity with those in protest, renders the result of being named. Resolved is quickened and an understanding of "what to do next" is clarified. 

Button says of her painting: 
History has stigmatized Mary Magdalene, ignoring her deep inter truth in favor of reckless speculation about possible sexual relationships with Christ and John the Baptist…

It is only fitting that Mary Magdalene would accompany the women in this painting (Kris Perry and Sandy Stier and Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer), who together challenged systematic discrimination agains LGBT people in our nation's highest court.

Mary Magdalene arrived at the tomb apprehensive, confused, and unsure of herself. Jesus names her, hands her back her identity and self-hood. So it is when LBGTQIA people receive their identity from the hand of the Sacred, we are made whole, loved, and empowered.

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