I've been called many things: apostle, whore, lover, preacher, mad-woman, sister, follower, wife. Fact or fiction, myth or reality--judge for yourself. All that really matters is that that I once loved a healer and a teacher, God and man, a crucified and resurrected peace-maker and rabble rouser. This is my story.

Friday, April 23, 2010


I try to not be jealous. Jealousy is, after all, an ugly trait. I've seen it in my sister and I've even seen it in the disciples. I am diligent in my efforts to see God's handiwork in those around me. Joshua taught, time and time again, about the Kingdom of Heaven being within us, that he is part of us, even more so now that he is risen, and so I try to remember that too. It seems to me that jealousy has no place in a heart that is filled with that irrefutable love of God, of Joshua. And yet....

Last week Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James and John all went to Sea of Tiberias to do some fishing. I'd gone home for a bit as well, all of us needing a break from this city, from the prying eyes of the Romans. And most of all, our fish supply and our money supply needed to be refurbished. I got back to Jerusalem first, to this house we're all sharing for the time being. The next day, they all came back, with fish, with money, and with stories of a visit from Joshua.

Peter didn't recognize him. I can not judge him for that. It's no secret that in the garden that morning, it was only when he called my name that I knew who he was. Still, Peter, his human eyes, was blinded by the vision that is Joshua. And Joshua is different now. There is no denying that. The story of their encounter is Peter's to tell, not mine, so I'll leave it to him. What I struggle with is my own envy. It has been over a week since I've seen him. And I understand that he has work to do, that others must see. Understanding is not the same as patience or peace. My head is clear. My heart--not so much. Even my dreams are foggy these days. I see him, but it's not obvious what he's saying, what he wants. My sister reminds me I was never very good a sharing. And I truly, with all of my being, believe that his words, his teachings, his miracles, his resurrection--these things must be shared. But him--the man, if he even is a man anymore, if he hasn't already become fully God--the man who I knew when he was a boy, who giggled with me over silly jokes, whose touch could calm and stir my heart all at once--that man, that Joshua, my Joshua--that I'm not so good at losing and at sharing.

And I feel guilty for my struggle.

Friday Five

Those wild women over at RevGalBlogPals are at it again with the Friday Five. I thought I'd play again.

1. When were you smiling lately?
I've been smiling a lot lately. In this strange time, after the Resurrection, Jesus keeps appearing all over the place. Most recently it was to Peter and some of our other friends while they were out doing the fishing for the week. But he comes by here every so often. While I miss walking with him, eating together every day, traveling and listening to his teachings, this new time is full of hope and joy. All that he said would happen has come to pass. And I have renewed hope not only for myself, but for my people. The Romans are still the Romans and there is still pain and suffering, and yet, I know, first hand, the joy and power of God. What's not to smile about with that?

2. What happened unexpectedly to you this past week?
Some eggs I had turned red. I'll post a separate blog entry about that later. But let me just tell you--it was weird and wild.

3. How was a catastrophe averted (or not)?
The eggs were hard boiled.

4. What was the most delicious thing you ate?
Fig cake and honey, using my mother's old recipe, along with some wine that we'd been saving since a wedding we attended a while back in Cana.

5. Did you see any good movies or read any books or articles?
No, but Peter's been doing some teachings around town, when he's not out fishing. And he's pretty interesting to listen to.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Jerusalem, the first time

The journey to Jerusalem ended as quickly as it began. We made it all the way there, but as we drew closer to the city, families began to split off, meeting up with relatives, going their own ways. Joshua and I passed each other in the city, spoke briefly here and there, but the nights of sitting by the fire, watching the stars, journeying together in the day--those were over once we reached Jerusalem. Time with him became something to steal. I've always loathed this city. Not because of the people, or the land, but because of what I associate with entering Jerusalem. I always seem to loose him here. We're camped here now, but I think it won't be long until I set out on my own. There are too many ghosts in this city, but it's not time for me to leave, not yet.

Back then, when we were very young, I didn't associate Jerusalem with losing him, only with the knowledge that it got lonely again after we went our own ways. The stories that are told now, the ones I hear going around, tell of him staying behind at the temple that year, his mother losing track of him and going back to find him teaching there. It didn't quite happen like that.

The men and the women were, of course, separated for worship. At night, I would come home to the small room my father had rented. It was there that Mary first showed up at our door.
"Mary!" my father greeted her. "So good to see you."
"And you as well, Benjamen. I've come to invite you both for dinner. We're staying down the way a bit."
I could hardly contain my excitement. To be with his family again, to be with him again, had my heart racing. We joined Mary and Joseph, James and the younger children at dinner. Joshua was nowhere to be seen.
"He's at the temple," Joseph said when he saw me looking around.
"He's always at the temple," said James, his younger brother, in a decisively annoyed-little-brother tone. "He always prays."
Mary didn't say anything, but looked at her younger son. I was disappointed and hoped he would come home soon. But he was gone the entire time we were there.

When we were gathered for prayer the next day, I asked Mary about Joshua.
"He is different, isn't he?"
"How do you mean?" she replied.
"I mean that he prays more than the other boys his age. And he knows more of who he is. And he isn't like the rest of us."
"No, he isn't. But sometimes he forgets that. Sometimes when he's around a certain girl," she said, laughing gently. "He can not be what you hope for him to be. Or what he hopes to be. It is not what waits for him."
"What does wait for him?" I asked.
"I don't know," she said and for the first time I sensed she wasn't being entirely truthful. And her eyes showed the same distress that I had seen the night Joshua and I returned from watching the stars.

Three days later, as we were packing to go, I looked for Mary, Joseph and the family. Mary had said they would leave early, but I hoped to walk the first part of way with them. I was almost to their house when I met James.
"He said you should meet him behind the temple."
"You heard me."
"Thanks, James."

I found him and he smiled when he saw me.
"I have to stay for a few more days" he said.
"But your family is packing to go."
"I know. My mother says it will help me learn who I am. And she says it will help the priests learn who I am. She says it's part of my destiny."
"You don't look happy about it."
"I'm not. I mean, I like to talk and debate with the rabbis, to learn from them and to teach them, but I'd rather walk the way home with you." Sometimes Joshua's face would change. From the man who I would come to know as not only my friend, but also my Saviour, into the face of a sheepish little boy. It didn't happen often. This was one of those times.

"Mom's going to wait for me and then come to the temple few days to pick me up."
"I'll see if I can wait and walk back with you and your mom," I said, excited for this next adventure.
"Great. I'll see you in a few days."

I returned to my father, who was looking for me at Joseph and Mary's house. I asked Mary and my father if I could stay, but both of them were insistent that I return to Magdala with my father. So we did. Crushed, I began that long journey home with my father. And wondering when I would ever see Joshua again. It would be awhile.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Five

Playing the Friday Five again, thanks to the women at Revgalblogpals.
Today's topic: Five questions about packing to go on a trip.

1) Some fold, some roll and some simply fling into the bag. What's your technique for packing clothes?
Since donkey or camel is usually my mode of transport, and food is often hard to come by on the road, I usually pack food, not clothes and then I just wear whatever I need and do a bit of discreet washing at the river each night.

2) The tight regulations about carrying liquids on planes makes packing complicated. What might we find in your quart-size bag? Ever lose a liquid that was too big?
I've never flown on a plane, but boy, yes, I've lost liquids. There is a total art form to packing wine skins and water skins. I once loaded the wine skin wrong as I was packing the camel. Lost entire supply of wine. Fortunately, I was traveling with someone who's good at taking water and making it into wine. So we were fine when it was all said and done. I was more careful when we packed the next day.

3) What's something you can't imagine leaving at home?
I used to be very attached to my possessions. Every thing with a memory attached to it, a history. But lately, I've found myself much more interested in traveling light and collecting, instead of things, stories as I travel. That said, I have a small bag from my mother, before she got too sick to do needle work. She taught me how to do needlework by making the bag with me. I treasure it. And someday, I'll let it go too. Because it's not her. But not yet.

4) Do you have a bag with wheels?

5) What's your favorite reading material for a non-driving trip (plane, train, bus, ship)?
I am wary of traveling with papyrus that is of value--it's so easy to destroy. So I do less reading on trips. To pass the time, I take dice with me. I'm really good at dice.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Joshua and I spent as much time together as we could on that trip to Jerusalem. My father was blissfully oblivious. His mother was another story. She always had her eye out for him. Not in an annoying way, just in an overprotective mother way. And it drove him crazy. He may be the Messiah, but back then, he was also a teenage boy with a pretty girl and would get annoyed with his mother like any other young, hormone packed adolescent.
"Who's your friend, Joshua?" Joshua's mother asked as she joined us along the way.
"This is Mary, she's from Magdala," he said.
"Mary, what a good name" she said and smiled. I noticed they had the same deep brown, twinkling eyes.
"Mom!" Joshua replied, "shouldn't you be keeping an eye on the little ones?"
"They're in good hands," she said easily. "James is watching out for them. I thought I'd walk with you for a bit."
Joshua sighed and then smiled. And we so we spent a good part of the day talking and walking with Mary.

I should tell you that I always liked Mary--Joshua's mom. She was gentle and kind, with she had a devilish sense of humor. She was incredibly smart and intuitive. And full of faith, a trait I've both envied and admired. Mary was, for me, easy to talk to and good at listening. And I loved walking with her. The sting of my mother's death was still sharp and there was not only compassion from her, but that innate mom-ness that I craved. My own mother's illness had been both long (almost all of my life) and all encompassing. I was drawn to her and I craved being with her almost as much as I longed to be near Joshua.

At the end of that day, we stopped to camp for the night. Mary took me with her and I helped her make dinner, my father joining us and it felt like family. My first real sense of that. My life had so revolved around illness that the art of the family meal, sitting and talking about the day, laughing, telling stories--all that was somewhat new. The fire went from roaring to dwindling, and still there were tales being told. It was one of the happiest nights of my young life.

Our parents engrossed in conversation, Joshua grabbed my hand and we moved away from the crowds. The black night was framed by the brightness of the stars and we wasted no time looking at their patterns in the sky. He smelled like sweat and boy. It was the first time I had been so close to him, to a boy and he pointed out the constellations, discussing how they had been a guide for so many travelers. My eyes flickering back and forth between his arm and his face and those distant points of light. As quietly as we had left, we rejoined the group, our absence unnoticed by all but Mary. She smiled at us, but there was distress in her face.

I tried to sleep, but found myself awake, under the stars, wondering where they would lead.

Monday, April 12, 2010


I grew up in the fishing village of Magdala. Being out on the water is one of my first memories. In fact, I can't remember a time when I wasn't on a boat. When I was very young, my father took me on his small fishing boat for the first time. It was early in the morning. My mother was sick. He was afraid I would get sick with her disease and did not want to leave me, yet he needed to fish. He began to go door to door, looking for someone to keep an eye on me, but, as he tells it, looked down at me and "saw the soul of a fisherman." Although it wasn't usual to bring someone as small or as female as me onto the boat, he did.

What I remember from that day was the sun as it danced on the water, causing my eyes to squint, the smell of salt and air, birds that flew in formation and playing with the nets, fingers interlocking with the rope, until it was time to cast them overboard. We came home with a bigger catch than my father had expected and he began to take me with him on a regular basis. I loved it: the water, the boat, the sun and my father. From that time forward,we were fishing at least twice a week.

The summer when I turned 11, I made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover, along with many others from Magdala. It was the first time I had ever been away from the water for any length of time. It was my first trip there. Although many went yearly, because of my mother's illness, my father would go and leave me to care for my mother. She died just before the Passover that year, and so, with no more reason to stay home, my father and I together, with the rest of our community, made that trip together. I remember singing the Psalms of Assent as we made our way to the city, feeling like I should be singing Psalms of Lament. We walked and sang in the day and stopped each night until we reached our destination.

At night, on the road to Jerusalem, we would gather, pilgrims from all over the area, and together the mothers would cook and the men would talk and the children would play. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, without a mother, I found myself wondering where to be, where to go. My father would stay with me, but after the second night, I sent him away to be with the other men. He had more to do than watch over me and he was lonely for friendship, needed to be away from the grief that surrounded us both.

I sat near the fire, alone and quiet, longing to be anywhere but on this road, wishing, more than anything to be back on the water,fishing, sitting in the sun. Lost in thought and prayer, I didn't hear his feet. Joshua, at 12, awkward and gangly, yet with that unmistakable semblance of otherness, of wisdom.

Whether he found me as a boy who liked a girl, or as God who saw a broken heart--it's hard to know. He was, after all, a boy and he was entitled to irrational love every bit as much as I was entitled to love him back. But he was that other too--that lonely and beautiful other. Something beyond human love, something I would later realize was more than holy love, it was love of God. But at that moment, at that time, it was just us--two kids with our parents, walking towards Jerusalem. And we found, me in my sorrow, him in his uniqueness, a strange place of abiding. And with him, my sorrow became, and not for the last time, a place of hope.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Romans and Rumors

The Romans have been all over the place, canvassing the city in full force. And while it sometimes feels a bit like paranoia, the fear also seems justified. Word is out. About what happened last week. The empty tomb, the stone rolled away. Some are saying that he, his body, was resurrected from the dead. Others are saying that we did it--that we moved his dead corpse just to anger the Romans. Still others are saying that the whole thing is just a farce, a story being made up. I've even heard rumors that he didn't actually die and that it was all a ruse, that we've hidden him away somewhere. Whatever they believe, none of the Romans are happy about it. From the government down to the guards, there is trouble for all of them. And that means there's trouble for us.

Logically it is foolish, but today I'm going out of the house, out into what may be the dangerous Roman streets. I want, I need to get out and tell the story. Peter, Levi, James, John and all the rest--they all say they are going to come with me, that they too will tell of the miracle, but they won't leave the house, except to run out for food, to fish if it's necessary. They are hiding like scared little children. And I understand that. My instinct says to stay safe and tucked away. Except I'm restless. And my fear grows weaker, or maybe my resolve grows stronger, as each account of Joshua (Jesus) appearing comes back to us.

Thomas is struggling too. He wants to believe Peter, believe Cleopas, believe me, what we saw, what we say. He nods his head. He listens intently. He's even said he believes. But he doesn't. The sadness in his eyes is too great, too deep. He doesn't yet believe. And my restlessness is nothing compared to his. So we're going out today. Thomas can preach. And he can preach, I think, an authentic message, even though I can tell he doubts. He, of course, won't tell of this resurrection. He'll tell of the miracles, the healings, the new relationship with God. And I'm not sure just what I'll say. Something about death being defeated. Something about life growing where before only fear and despair had lived. Because as much as I miss Joshua (and believe me, I do), I now I have life that is new and hopeful. I long to tell of this strangeness, this power, this God-made-human truth that I don't fully understand. I don't know who we'll preach to. More to the point, I don't know who will listen. But I can't stay here any longer. Between the fear and those who don't fully believe, it's too sad and too anxious here and frankly it's starting to smell bad. I need clean air and fresh faces, people who need to hear the peculiar and terrible and wonderful news of the past week, the past years.

Yet in the midst of my hope and my joy, I have a heart that longs and yearns for what I can not have, save in dreams. Last night, while I slept, in a vision or in a dream, I don't know which, we were walking, across the shore at Galilee, the water lapping against my ankles, the sand and pebbles kicking between my toes. In my dream it was only us. He laughed and I felt myself breathe, the air filling my lungs, stinging from its freshness. And I felt myself smile and finally laugh. And then it was over. I awoke. And I'm left to wonder what is dream and what is reality and where they are their own and where they become one.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Friday Five

The lovely women over at Revgalblogpals have a weekly feature--the Friday Five. I thought, since I'm new to this whole blogging world, I'd give it a go.

1. When was your last, or will be your next, out of town travel?
Not too long ago I came from the Galilee down to Jerusalem, and I'm staying here for the time being. But I'm a traveling preacher, so I expect that I'll hit the road before too long. I hear France is nice and I've never been that far, so maybe after my work gets wrapped up in this region, I'll head there for a bit.

2. Long car trips: love or loathe?
I've not ever done a long car trip, but let me just say--long camel trips--not my thing. Camels are mean and they spit and they're not at all comfortable. That said, they can go for a long time and that comes in handy when you've got to make long distances.

3. Do you prefer to be driver or passenger?
Driver. Always the driver. (Unless Joshua is in charge of the travel arrangements. He's really quite good at keeping the camels happy and on track and getting them to move quickly.)

4. If passenger, would you rather pass the time with handwork, conversing, reading, listening to music, or ???
It depends who's traveling with me. Some of my close friends--Joshua (you all call him Jesus), Peter, Joanna--they're great to chat with. But sometimes music is good too.

5. Are you going, or have you ever gone, on a RevGals BE? Happiest memories of the former, and/or most anticipated pleasures of the latter?
I haven't, but is sure looks like fun. I don't get seasick, which is a plus. I love the water. I come from a fishing village and have been on boats for as long as I can remember.

6. Bonus: a favorite piece of road trip music.
Well, I posted something I found the other day on an earlier blog: the Ballad of Mary Magdalen, which you can find here . But for travel, I really like REM. Here's a favorite:

Thursday, April 8, 2010


So a bit of back story: The same morning I went to the tomb and found him there in the garden--well that night, Cleopas and a friend headed out towards Emmaus. And Jesus showed up there, on the road with them. They didn't recognize him either, at least not at first. Which tells me I'm not entirely mad. When Cleopas and I chatted, he said that he could physically look at Jesus and see him, but his mind--his mind couldn't grasp that what he was seeing was real. So he just figured it was a random guy walking down the road. Until he broke the bread. And then it was as if clarity broke through the foggy veil of sight. They recognized him over dinner. Something about the familiarity of the meal, coupled with the language. It's hard to explain. I feel a little less alone, knowing that Jesus is appearing to the others, just like he promised he would.

Last night he came by. It was quiet in the house. Everyone asleep, full bellies, excited energy from all the resurrection (that's what he's calling it) commotion. I was asleep and he came in and sat on the edge of my bed. He didn't say a word and I wonder how long he was there. I woke up and we just stared at each other for a bit, neither of us saying anything.

With him it is comfortable and strange and delicious and odd and good all at the same time. He says he has more places to go, more people who need to see this thing for themselves. The marks are there. From last Friday. But they don't weep. I touch them and he doesn't flinch, says they don't hurt. He is real. Flesh and bone and breath--ah that breath that I could breathe all day long, like perfume, like the air for my own lungs.

"Close your eyes," he says. And I do. And he touches my hair and I fall asleep and I dream.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Cry Cry Cry

So I googled myself. Interesting stuff out there. This is among my favorites. The video is cheesy and doesn't, for the most part, present an accurate picture of what I look like. But I like the song. And it has echoes of the truth in it.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Strange days. Everyone is on edge. Thomas thinks we're all imagining things (sometimes I think so too). Peter is barking orders. No one has seen Judas, not that anyone's complaining. James and John are taking turns, wandering out into the city. Everyone is restless, but no one, except James and John, seem to want to leave the house.

It's strange, because despite all that I've seen with my eyes, touched with my hands, held, ever so briefly in my arms, despite all that, there is still so much fear. I know what I saw, what I felt, what I smelled, what I breathed in. And yet, the fear is so strong, so deeply rooted. I overheard one of them calling me "the mad-woman," which pissed me off, but at the same time, I understood the accusation. It was based not in anger or mean-spiritedness, but in disbelief. In the human inability to understand that what he said, what he did--the whole coming back from the dead--what do you call coming back from the dead? Whatever you call it, it seems impossible to believe it. "It's nothing but an idle tale" Peter said. And then he saw.

Before he left me, Jesus promised that he'd come and see me, see us again. I trust that. I just wish he'd hurry up and get here. Everyone seems so restless, and anxiety is taking hold of everyone.

So I'm making hummus and trying to fix my mind on the things he taught, the things he did, the sound of my name as is came flowing out of his mouth, like water in a desert. James is supposed to bring some fish and I'll bake some bread. We'll eat. We'll watch. We'll wait.


I'm tired. And I know I'm not the one who was up on a cross and died and rose again (and no, I haven't even begun to try to wrap my mind around all of that). But I'm tired. And happy. But tired. Walking to the cross, behind him, watching the horrors of that day, sitting with his mother as she wept, as I wept, as we all wept. And then yesterday, at the garden--the strange joy of finding him there.

And I am so happy--so full of joy--that he is back. "Don't cling to me," he said. He still has work to do. And I get that. Please don't think to harshly on me that I want him to stay. That I want to cling. This is the most bizarre week ever.

So me? Today? Happy, confused and tired. Joyfully waiting. (And going to try and sleep soon).