GAFF ~ Mary Magdalene versus Determinism
Thoughts of an old Fisherman
by Lorena R. Peter, Ph.D.*
[as it appeared in the November 2010 Newsletter]
‘Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalene at the Empty Tomb’
Priscilla was bundled up in sweaters covered by a windbreaker. She wiggled on the cooler to settle it in the sand while she watched Gaff cast his lines into the surf. She was taking a break from writing, but wondered at her decision to visit her friend on the blustery beach. How could Gaff fish all through the winter? Or did he?
Rods in their holders, Gaff stood at water’s edge looking out at Mother Water for a good moment and then he came to take his place in the ratty old beach chair beside the cooler. The flag serenaded them with its a-rhythmic thwapping in the breeze.
He smiled. “Taking a break?”
A nod. She looked out at the horizon wondering how much warmer it would get today. Actually, she was hoping for more warmth.
He would honor her silence as long as she needed it. A decision, a nod. “I’m reading about Mary Magdalene and the original church.”
He nodded, waiting for more. A glance at the rod showed the pull of the tides, no fish yet.
Priscilla hugged herself for warmth. It was November: a great time for walking on the beach, but cold to sit. She opened her mouth to speak, but was distracted by a male voice calling a greeting. They turned to see a figure coming across the walkway from the parking lot. Bundled against the wind, he waved and grinned big enough to be seen from where they sat.
Gaff pulled a towel from his wagon and spread it on the sand, ready for company.
“Saw your flag and figured I’d make a social call since I’m walking in this direction today.” He reached them and looked around. “A bit cold today, isn’t it?”
Gaff muttered, “Comes and goes these days.” He looked from person to person. “Priscilla, meet the right reverend Wally. Wally, this is Priscilla, a writer with a diverse reading list.”
Wally plopped down on the proffered towel and looked her over with an expression that unsettled Priscilla. “And what would you be reading now?”
Priscilla glanced at Gaff and then looked at Wally, Defiance was written all over her face. “I’m reading about Mary Magdalene, the wife of Jesus.” Then she looked out to the sea. A smile teased the corners of her mouth.
Wally practiced sputtering. He was getting good at it. Now Priscilla did smile.
Gaff was smiling, too. “Told you.”
Wally straightened with dignity. “Jesus wouldn’t marry a whore.” Then he turned to look at the water. Period.
Priscilla’s voice was low, but with an edge fit to cut bait. “Pope rescinded that in 1969. You must have missed the small print.”
Wally turned toward her. “Did he say she was Jesus’ wife?”
Priscilla shook her head. “Didn’t go that far, but evidence in the Bible points to that conclusion.” Gaff had told her about meeting Wally.
Gaff chuckled. “Forgot to warn you that she talks about the Bible… without the letters behind her name. It’s an epidemic.” He coughed to hide his laugh.
Wally’s face threatened a storm, but he breathed deeply and attempted impassivity. “Must be her destiny to get caught up in the debate about Mary’s role. My sermon this week is about determinism, God’s plan, and I’ve been looking into it.”
Priscilla’s eyes popped open wide. “Determinism. I’ve read about that, too. Why is it that I’m destined to believe that the Magdalene is the tower and not the whore?” She cut her eyes toward Wally, then turned her attention to a shell in the sand beside her.
He shrugged. “Pretty obvious, isn’t it? You’re a woman fighting for a place in the spotlight. You wouldn’t want to think that Mary got her glory from being one of a crowd of women around Jesus. Giving her a more esteemed position has more appeal. The Virgin Mary was content to stake her reputation on her famous son.”
Priscilla took the bait. “It’s not about me at all. What I’ve read resonates with me– the second coming is when Mary returns and she will only show up when we exalt her as an equal to the male anointed one, the male Christ. She is the female Christ according to the MALE scholars I’m reading.” She could feel the heat of anger rising in her face.
Gaff groaned, rolling his eyes, which he turned to see Wally’s reaction.
Wally shook his head slowly, a smug smile decorating it. “The Second Coming, a woman? I don’t think so. No, your destiny is to follow this blind alley until you come to the end and have to retrace your steps. Then you will come to the teaching of the church for the truth. Goes back to Eve leading Adam astray. God has it all planned for you… your whole journey. You’ll try to lead us astray, but…” He ignored sparks coming from her eyes.
Gaff chuckled. “I’m surprised you didn’t blame some teacher that predicted she couldn’t be as successful as a man.”
Wally definitely underestimated Priscilla’s strength of conviction.
Priscilla grabbed the shell at her feet and threw it at the waves. “This is the very thinking that keeps us in a hole so deep we can’t see out. Goddess Energy is the loving energy that’s flooding the planet so we can see the good in others. The future of the human race depends on acceptance of women as equal… Besides the Great Mary was an important priestess in her own right.”
Wally’s sputtering was preliminary to a tirade and Gaff didn’t want that to pollute his beach. He cleared his throat and put a hand on the person to each side. His voice was strong, but gentle. “What does it matter if everything is set in stone because of what a woman did ages ago? What does it matter if the Mary was a Christ?”
Priscilla and Wally both had mouths open, ready to answer.
Gaff dropped his hands onto the arms of his chair, leaned back, and looked to Mother Water. “These intellectual discussions can be interesting, but are you so distracted by them that you miss the important point? The important point for me is to learn a new way of loving every day. The important point is to follow the guidance of a loving god to find new ways of benefiting the people around me.”
He turned to Priscilla. “Is your discussion of Mary’s role an attempt to show people new ways of valuing men and women to an equal amount?”
She wanted to answer, but stopped to think. A small nod. She saw how she could do that. It only took a slight change in direction.
He turned to Wally. “How is your discussion of determinism going to convince your congregation to leave behind old programming to follow the two commandments Jesus gave? Isn’t part of that old programming the belief that we have to follow what’s written in a book rather than develop a personal relationship with the divine?”
Wally’s eyes were boring through Gaff, but he was listening.
Gaff smiled. “Call it Goddess Energy if you want, but we’re becoming more aware of our capacity to love every person on the planet. Love forms and reforms the water of the world, in the seas and in the people. Love makes life, and the water of life, into a thing of beauty.” He stopped suddenly to look at Mother Water.
Priscilla was speechless. She had never seen Gaff say so much and so strongly. She glanced at Wally and then looked into her own hands. Tears filled her eyes and painted tracks on her cheeks. If writing is her life purpose, then didn’t she want to create things of beauty? She glanced at Wally, lost in his own thoughts. It didn’t matter what this man thought. She had her own path. She looked at Mother Water and said a prayer asking for guidance and thanking her for the friendship with Gaff. High up on her list for this Thanksgiving season was this man who knew.
*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books. All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends a medical intuition and healing practice (and travel) with her writing. For more information go to WWW.LORENAPETER.COM. You may contact her on Facebook. For her understanding of the Course, she thanks Carmen Cameron and the class in Louisville, KY.