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Today is the feast of Mary Magdalene

Today is the feast day of Mary Magdalene which seemed a propitious day to write something about the journey of CCiC. Now there will be many who are not a little surprised that feast days are high on our radar, but sometimes a prod can be a fruitful call to reflection. The prod today was the arrival in my inbox of a daily meditation from Richard Rohr (see the link below if you would like to read it) where he reflects on the place and role of Mary Magdalene, and why she and the faithful women witnesses of the resurrection have such a near invisible role within church history.

There has been a growing recognition in recent times of the wealth of history, wisdom and insight that has been glossed over by a world that sought to retell the story from a dominant male perspective and draw a veil over the concept of the “sacred feminine”.[1] It has not been the tradition of the church to explore and promote these voices, and it is our loss. There is presently a growing impetus for us to ask what unconscious bias we bring with the lens we choose to look at the world, and to stand alongside those who have been, and continue to be excluded. Whether it be an awakening to the Black Lives Matter struggle or the awakening to experience of abuse within communities, we are called to widen our horizons and deepen our insight as part of our own journey of faith.

Richard Rohr in today’s meditation reminds us how we have glossed over the presence of the women at the death and resurrection of Jesus: “We weren’t wrong; we were simply paying attention to what we were told to look at – the men – by other men (priests, theologians, and even Gospel writers themselves)”. If our history and our culture tell us to focus in a particular direction, then that is what we have tended to do. If you would like to explore an example of how we choose what we see, just take a look at this video about selective attention and let us know in the comments section whether it surprised you.

So Richard Rohr is telling us of how we cannot see what we aren’t told to look for. For the Church in these uncertain times, when we are looking ahead to a world living with post Covid-19 uncertainty, if we are programmed to only look for things that are familiar and church shaped, then we may well be drawing in the blinkers of our field of vision out of fear and obedience rather than out of wisdom seeking and risk taking.

We have learned much within CCiC about the practice of conversation and the need to be intentional in our approach and rooted in self-awareness. If we are to create space where everyone can grow then we cannot approach conversation thinking we contain all the knowledge and wisdom that is required. Our purpose is to “seek the extra-ordinary within the ordinary”, and to be “open to experiencing something of the nature of God through someone else’s journey and story, however different to our own”.

There is a story I have long loved of a woman pilgrim walking along a river bank till she comes to a point where she needs to cross over but can’t. Seeing another woman on the other side she calls out “How do I get to the other side?” to which the other woman replies “You are already on the other side!” Those who have ears to hear………..

Questions to ponder:

What are the unconscious biases that have shaped the way I approach seeing the world and that have shaped me without me knowing?

What are the dominant voices that are telling us what to look for as we look ahead on our journey?

In what ways am I receptive to learning something new of the nature of God from the stories and journeys of people we meet who may be very different from us?

PS: If you don’t know why the portrait of Mary Magdalene at the top of this article sees her holding an egg, then why not have a Google moment and find out!

[1] For instance:

Jean Yves Lelop – “The Gospel of Mary Magdalene” Meggan Watterson – Mary Magdalene revealed.

Jon Doble 22nd July 2020

For the link to Richard Rohrs' meditations click HERE

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