The red egg

image by Janet McKenzie

Today is the Feast of Mary Magdalene, a great day to induct my favorite saint into the Hall of Marys. She is perhaps my favorite follower of Jesus for so many reasons that I cannot list them all here. Suffice it to say that my daughter is named for her and I hope she grows up to be as loyal, caring, strong, persistent, and pioneering as the Magdalene, but without all the strange rumors.

Among the strangest stories about Mary Magdalene is this: after the death and resurrection of Jesus, she was spreading the Gospel and managed to visit the Emperor Tiberius in Rome. She greeted him with a plain egg in her hand and the Easter greeting, “Christ has risen.” The Emperor laughed and said that Christ was no more risen than the egg in her hand was red. Immediately the egg turned blood red.

Red is Mary Magdalene’s color. It is the color of prostitutes and adultery for women–one of the rumors about her. Red is the color of blood–Jesus blood given for us, Mary’s blood coursing through her veins, a source of nourishment. Red is the color of love and passion–Mary’s passion for Jesus, his mission, and his followers. In the church today, fiery red is the color of the Holy Spirit present in burning bushes and Pentecost flames.

Mary was the Apostle to the Apostles, the one who went to the tomb to carry out the saddest duty one friend can do for another: anoint them for burial. She unwittingly became the witness to the miracle of resurrection, the first to believe the unbelievable. She became the first to share the good news. Mary Magdalene was aflame with love for God and spread that love far and wide. It is for this that she is known, not for her relationship to a husband, father, son, or brother. She is known as her own self and for her own passionate, spirited love.

Go and do likewise.



When metaphors are real…it is kind of weird

Have you ever lived a metaphor? Something happens to you or you do something and then, after some time passes, you look back and think, “if that happened in a book or movie I would not believe it!” A totally trippy experience.

Here is how it happened to me. When my son was 2 years old, he went to a Montessori school that asked parents to give a dozen blown eggs at Easter time. The kids made confetti eggs with them, smashed them on each others heads and had a blast. So I dutifully blew the innards out of a dozen eggs, let them dry, and took them to school. Then I thought, that was not so hard. I bet I could blow some more eggs and decorate them myself. So I did. here is how they turned out:

A little overboard, I know.

I did it again when he was three and four. And the thing is, I am crafty, but not really an artist. I don’t usually paint anything at all, much less decorative objects. But I couldn’t stop myself. Each year I added to the collection and put them all out on display for the holiday.

Y’all, who makes a Tiffany egg? A crazy woman, that’s who.

When my son was 5, I stopped. I was pregnant and he was in Kindergarten–they didn’t do the same Easter craft. I got out the eggs I had already decorated each year, but didn’t added any new ones.

And I never painted another egg again.

A couple of years later, when my son was 7ish and my daughter was a toddler my mom was visiting for Easter and asked if I was going to make any more decorated eggs. “Nah, for some reason I am just not into it any more.” And then she observed, “You stopped making them when you had the baby, maybe you were done thinking about eggs!”

Okay, this is where it gets all metaphorical and weird. The whole time I was painting those fancy eggs I was trying to get pregnant, being treated for infertility, totally focused on EGGS. All day long, all cycle long, thinking about making more and more eggs. And before Easter for three years in a row, I painted eggs with a kind of obsession.

I have no wisdom to add here. Really, I am just trying to figure out what my current habits mean.