Mary Magdalen by He Qi, China
Miss Eagle is always stunned at how people view Mary Magdalene - and the extremes of those views to the extent that one has to wonder if they are talking about the same person. What has always peeved Miss Eagle though is her own view that the capital 'C' church has been so easily dismissive of Mary. Mary was there with the twelve but is never considered an apostle.
Yet Mary, in womanly fashion, provided nurture and resources for the work of Jesus. She made so much so possible. But above all where Miss Eagle is peeved to the limit is that Mary Magdalene was the first bearer of the good news of the resurrection, yet for 2000 years the capital 'C' church - with only very recent exceptions - has forbidden women the preaching of the good news officially within the its services. For Miss Eagle, Mary Magdalene is a true Apostle. She resourced the ministry of Jesus. She was constant during his crucifixion and did not go to pieces or to flight like the majority of the male Apostles. She was there to discover the empty tomb. In fact, that's the thing. She was there. She was constant. She was there for the action and there to pick up the pieces. A truly female story. One that many men never get!
Before the Festival comes the spring cleaning;
Away from the crowd,
With myrrh from a little pail
I wash your most pure feet.
I feel for the sandals and cannot find them.
I see nothing through my tears
And the strands of my hair
Cover my eyes like a veil.
I have planted your feet on the hem of my skirt, Jesus.
I have watered them with my tears, I have wound them round
With a string of beads from my neck,
I have cloaked them in my hair.
I see the future in detail
As though you had stopped it.
At this moment I am able to prophesy
With the foresight of a Sibyl.
To-morrow the veil of the temple will be torn,
We will huddle together in a little group, apart
And the earth will sway under our feet,
Perhaps out of pity for me.
The columns of the guards will re-form
And the horsemen will ride away.
Like a windspout in a storm, the cross above my head
Will strain towards the sky,
And I will fall at its feet,
Silent and dazed biting my lips.
Your arms will spread out to the ends of the cross
To embrace too many.
For whom in all the world
Is your embrace so wide,
For whom so much torment,
So much power?
In all the world
Are there so many souls?
So many lives?
So many villages, rivers and woods?
Those three days will pass
But they will push me down into such emptiness
That in the frightening interval
I shall grow up to the Resurrection.
From Dr Zhivago by Boris Pasternak translated from the Russian by Max Hayward and Manya Harari. The Harvill Press, London, 1996