Surrender, Oil on Canvas Board, 9” x 12”, 2007
Why does this painting have so many titles...? Well, I had forgotten that I had already given it a title and then decided to make a contest to search for one! I got two great ones. Then I liked them all, because they all tell about the piece, and they all sing to my heart.
Years ago, in the midst of recovery from the stem cell transplant and the subsequent emotional turmoil that this created in my life, I began "receiving" words. The first one was compassion, the next was surrender. Then came imagination and finally, peace. The title contains 3 of these words. The painting contains them all.
When I first started learning about Mary Magdalene, it never occurred to me to relate the words to her. I struggled with the first two words for a long time. It took a long, long time to understand compassion. Surrender is an action rather than an idea, and it is extremely difficult to practice. I never thought of these words in relation to painting, but as I write about this piece, I realize that they were essential to my understanding the Magdalene.
Compassion and mercy are synonyms. In the title, it most obviously refers to Jesus Christ, but we can also see it a little different. I think that Jesus Christ helped Mary Magdalene have compassion for herself. This way he liberated her from "7 demons." By seeing herself in his presence, the presence of Pure Love, she accepted the Atonement that he was there to give her. What else could atonement be but the acceptance of the self as innocent and divine. Our "sins" are washed away by compassion. This is the moment in which Love transforms the Magdalene.
I don't really care whether the Magdalene was Jesus Christ's wife or not. It does not matter to the way I view this scene. Maybe Jesus was a healer that aligned her chakras, or maybe they were tantric lovers, or maybe he really exorcised her, or maybe she really was a prostitute and decided to change her life. These are all things I have come across while studying the Magdalene. But I like to keep it simple: The true instrument by which Mary Magdalene was transformed was Love. Is there any other possible explanation? I think this is the root to all the explanations. Mary Magdalene became one with Jesus Christ by his compassion and her willingness to see herself in the mirror of his Love.
This morning as I was taking a shower, I thought of the colors of this painting and realized something (we all know the best ideas come in the shower...) She is dressed in green just before her change. And green is the opposite color of red. From now on, she will be in red. I confess that I was thinking about green as the color of fertility as well as the color of hope. But I also know I chose this green because it was the only bright earth color that matched the color harmony in the painting. And that's the true reason why her dress is green!
Mary Magdalene surrendered to Love. She had compassion for herself and learned that her soul is pure. Christianity stands upon her vision of the Resurrection, a vision that cannot exist without imagination. She now dwells in the arms of peace, and guides all of us who ask her towards Infinite Love.
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