Miriam walks out of her wounds after the violent death of her son and the awesome experience of encountering the empty tomb and begins her life anew. She is a woman in midlife who has endured the heartbreaking loss of her son dying violently before her. This must have so bereft her that she – like any of us – died with him and then labored to become someone who could sojourn on. This woman of dynamic faith entered through this moment into a process of suffering transformation. With sacred time, she eventually emerged from her heartward retreat with a fullness of being that graced her as a guardian of life and creation. Spiraling forward out of her deep connection to the ground of all being, she graced the world around her with spiritual values of love, serenity and service – wisdom’s gifts that keep on giving. These gifts would have evolved to create in Miriam the kind of mature woman who has the ability to tell the truth and the relational skills to be heard. As an apostle, her qualities would have been unsurpassed as powerful abilities to usher into being a new worldview.
So, Miriam withdrew to Mount Zion where she went inward and spent time with herself – doubtless weary of this world. In time, she propelled outward to connect – re-connect with the apostles through her return journey to Bethany. Firmly respected and honored for her faith and wisdom, she completed her life as gospel narrative by practicing resurrection in her heart and travelling onward to Ephesus. All the while continuing to serve as a role model of wonderment and an exemplar of Christ’s message of love and redemption. Her personal journey of spiritual growth grounded as it was in her courage, her steadfastness and her faith must have invited countless spiritual encounters and holy moments with the apostles who loved her and the community of women who companioned her. It is hard to imagine that anyone came to comprehend the notion of repentance (change of heart) as closely as Miriam. Nor anyone who lived more profoundly entering G*d’s quiet and telling out G*d’s stories of worlds within worlds. And the world within her becomes a larger and larger spiraling space where G*d and all creation dwell.
And so it is not surprising that so many in the world pay homage to her or that Christianity sought to package her as a spiritual archetype for women – the heart of the feminine divine though less relevant than her son. Sadly, the more the idea of her expanded, the more distant the divine reality of her became. And so, the powerful, fierce, endlessly compassionate, enduring love and constancy of this humble Jewish woman of profound faith became bound by the initiatives of organized religion. Bound in an effort to fossilize her revolutionary love for the wild soul and her wisdom language of the sincere heart and soul.
This is how I hold Miriam in my heart, how I humanize her, how I untie, unbind her, and all women. I encounter her as a real woman who suffered, lost, and lost and lost – like so many women in this world. And then, she retreated into herself world-weary until such time as she was healed enough to emerge and live her life soul first as part of creation and the endless spiral of love. Her courage teaches me that our tears are the birthing waters of our souls and serve as mighty rivers that create new life and impel us somewhere, somewhere good, somewhere better…. These are the spiritual gifts and lessons beckoning to be learned through one woman’s life as gospel narrative, through one woman’s journey – the road to Ephesus.