Yesterday in the gathering of the Contemplative Community, we had a lively discussion around the phrase from the resurrection account from John’s gospel where Jesus is reported to have said to Mary Magdalene, “Mary, do not cling to me.” This can be a startling statement and invites us to ponder what Jesus might have meant.
In this account from John, Jesus seems to be encouraging Mary to let go of the life that she had come to know. Jesus would no longer be there in physical form as her teacher and leader. She would no longer live the life of a disciple and student of the human Jesus – a life that had taken on a certain rhythm, predictability and security. She had to let go of what she had come to know so that she could step into the next stage in her journey. Specifically for Mary, the invitation was to step out of the role of student and into the role of teacher and leader. As Mary let go of the human Jesus, she was commissioned to be the one to deliver the news of the resurrection and in doing so, became the Apostle to the Apostles. In this new role, Mary became the first leader of a new movement, a movement to spread the teachings of Jesus and to help others find the path to spiritual freedom that Jesus embraced and revealed. In accepting this role, Mary realized her own resurrection moment. She left behind the life that she had come to know to embrace the new life promised to her. In doing so, Mary realized the freedom of empowerment and the joy of naming, claiming and freely sharing her own Divinely ordained giftedness.
“Do not cling” is an important message for us as well. Each and every one of us will come to places in our lives where we are invited to step into a new life – a life that is freer, more expansive, more reflective of our highest truths and our own unique giftedness. In order to step into this life of deeper freedom, however, we have to leave behind the life that we have come to know. We cannot cling to the past as we step into our own Divinely ordained futures. We have to leave behind the perceived security that comes from familiarity and predictability. We have to have the courage to let go, to grieve these losses and be open to the new life that is yet to be revealed. We then have to step boldy into the great unknown, trusting that the path to freedom will be revealed and that this new life will be more fulfilling than the last.
As you move through the coming days, I would invite you to reflect on your life journey thusfar. What are the things you have had to leave behind so that you could step more fully into your deepest truths? What gave you the courage to leave those things behind? How did you grieve those losses? What were the gifts of leaving the past behind and stepping into your future? What was the new life you had the opportunity to embrace as you allowed yourself to let go of the past you may have been clinging to?