Accepted by others, accepted by self

I need a saint.

There is a woman I keep in my head, an echo of a real human, whom I am ashamed of thinking about. I don’t imagine sex with her, but talking companionably. I read or see something and imagine myself saying something about it to her. Occasionally I torture myself with the real human’s social media.

Philippa Perry writes, “Humans can feel we don’t exist if we live unwitnessed”. I don’t imagine this person saying anything to me, particularly, just being in my company with a friendly manner. I imagine not being alone, and not needing to present a face to another- to be allowed to be me. Then I am aware of my loneliness, and ashamed, because I am ashamed of just about everything.

My Episcopalian background made little of saints. We prayed to God. Jesus is human, but superhuman, able to cure disease by touch or even by the thought of him (for Jairus, if not for most of those people praying about cancer right now). I might imagine a Greek, Mesopotamian or Egyptian god, entirely on my side, or a Bodhisattva.

If I know what the echo achieves for me- I imagine being witnessed- I might construct a better way of achieving that. My new fantasy woman is Mary Magdalene. She is immortal: two thousand years old but still looks like this.

If she were my saint, someone in my head I could talk to occasionally, I might imagine her as portrayed in Dirk Bouts’ The Entombment. She is practical. She is a tower of strength in the darkness.

ACA advises us to awaken an inner loving parent. What would the loving parent say? Well, what would I say to the loving parent? I am ashamed. I am afraid.

Mary Magdalene accompanied Jesus. She suffered powerlessly as he went to his death. Then she had the great insight which founded the Christian church- “He is not here”. Jesus lives in our hearts and memories and what we know of Him. He is not in the past, but the present.

Then she was traduced by Patriarchy. How did she reach that insight? The Gospels say, a man told her. The church called her a prostitute. In so many paintings she contemplates death. Yet she survives. She is a tower of strength, just what I need.

I say “I am ashamed” and my inner critical parent says, so you should be. About everything. I say “I am afraid”, and the critical parent says how useless I am. There is nothing to be afraid of. Get on with it. My own personal saint might say, “Yes. Do not worry about it,” and give me a consoling cuddle. Or take me by the hand. I imagine myself a child with her. Mary has the strength and experience to witness and accept all that I am, so that I might, too. Yes, I am co-dependent. No, that does not make for good relationships. It might be better if I could deal with it in my own head.

Everyone? Even a successful straight cis white male might have parts of himself he denies or is too ashamed to show. Unable to bear living with myself, I might confess to Mary, who would absolve me.

11 thoughts on “Accepted by others, accepted by self

  1. ❤️ it is so simple isnt it? 😉
    You know we cant just rely on them, the saints I mean. We have to be them. Luckily there are thousands of them. If you look beyond your own religion there are millions. So it is quite easy. There is a saint for everything. Even war. Though I personally wish for a time where them warsaints are not needed But makes place for the peacemakers instead. You for instance could be an icon for transpeople? Nay? That is groundbraking. And needed I think.
    You know we are one god with a thousand faces.
    Here is my hand. As we continue this crazy madwalk called life where human resource has been translated into market value.


  2. I think what you describe in the 1st paragraph is part of the grief process when a relationship falls apart; l did the same after Steve and I separated. I don’t feel that it’s anything one should feel shame over!


      • The grief process will proceed anyway, helping you to move on eventually, but you need to be gentler with yourself generally. Do you mean shame about engaging in the relationship to start with?.. l don’t feel that’s justified either.. We can’t change what we respond to.. our sexuality is just what it is! My passive/ demisexual elements lost me my marriage in the end, but l am what l am. I felt shame about not being a good enough wife for some time after, but not anymore.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I find it fascinating that you have similar views on Magdalene as do I. For, it appears, different reasons, we have arrived at the same conclusions as to her importance and main features. Mary has long held a fascination for me, she was the first to see the risen Christ, the first to investigate, the first to truly understand what Jesus meant in the Gospels and respond to it (washing his feet with perfume and wiping with her hair) in the most human way.

    I do not converse with Mary, I suspect she has better things to do than waste time with me (like talking with you), but I find your choice fascinating and inspirational. Sorry, I thought I had something to add here but I’m mainly just nodding in words. If I could, I would be as Mary is to you to the people I know in my life.

    I shall simply recommend my favourite hymn as a child: “Said Judas to Mary” – because, despite the author’s identification with Judas ultimately, he does recognise the reason Jesus commended Mary at the time. That’s it, that’s all I have to add.


    • Washing his feet: This story is in all four gospels, and one study bible I have suggests it is two separate incidents. It is in Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, Luke 7:36-50, and John 12:1-8. None of them name her as Mary Magdalene. In Matthew, Mark and John Mary only appears at the crucifixion and after. In Luke, the woman who dried his feet with her hair is called a “sinner”, and immediately after, in Luke 8:1-3, Mary is named: “some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out” and others. She is not named as “a sinner”. The chapters are a Mediaeval innovation, but Jesus has moved through other cities and villages from the house of Simon the Pharisee.

      I would have to study further, but the fact that the stories are consecutive in Luke may be the basis of the church identification of Mary with the unnamed woman. The translation “sinner” is pretty constant, but the Amplified Bible calls her “a notorious outcast, devoted to sin”, generally seen as a sex worker. The Oxford Bible Commentary says Mary’s demons “are not a pointer to any immorality; she is not to be brought into connection with the woman of the previous episode”. However that is the origin of the identification of Mary Magdalene as a sex worker, and all the “Penitent Magdalene” paintings.

      Here my progressivism requires a particular response- of course there is nothing wrong with being a sex worker, but the patriarchy used the association to besmirch the woman who went and told the Twelve to celebrate and preach the life of Jesus, rather than merely mourning him.

      I decide Mary can live in my head, as a conversation partner and counsellor. She is unique and personal to me. I read of a child imagining Batman in the same way. Anyone can have their own personal Mary. She is strong enough for the both of us!

      Liked by 2 people

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