When Jesus Blessed Christ died, everyone ran into the huddle of the trees except Mary Magdalene. My father said Mary Magdalene was a remarkable woman with a granitic will and a love bigger than the ocean and she ought to be acclaimed more than all the poor muddled apostles put together. After my grandmother died my father said everyone is so sad but we should be thrilled that she is now reunited with her clanswoman Mary Magdalene, and probably all the flinty women in history live in the same building in heaven where they can start cooking fires if necessary by using their granitic wills. Probably that building is so brilliantly white, said my father, that it can be seen even here on earth, if you look for it closely. Probably that is the star that sailors look for when the sea is near to swallowing them and they have one last appeal to make. Of course they would appeal to Mary Magdalene. Wouldn’t you? Everyone else runs into the trees, but she would run right toward you in your hour of need and be there at the edge of the bed smiling when you awake. (The Thorny Grace of It, 114)
Author Brian Doyle is particularly good at noticing people—how they look and talk and move. In the essay excerpted above, he talks about his grandmother’s death. In his Irish Catholic family, it was natural to relate their loved one to a saint such as Mary Magdalene—we’re all part of the same family, aren’t we?
- How do you relate to loved ones who have gone before you? Is there someone you have an especially vivid memory of?
- If someone were to compare you to a saint—put you in that person’s company—which saint would you want it to be, and why?