Desolate. The word caught the edge of the wind and plummeted into her heart echoing, reverberating, until it encompassed and inundated every part of her soul.
Desolate. She stared into the darkness, searching the recesses of her mind. Then she remembered. The prophet Isaiah had used that word to describe Babylon.
"It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation:... And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in the pleasant palaces...".
She shrugged. "All those times I listened, to search, to wander through the dark narrow bends in memory." She had hoped -- hoped desperately -- to discover a reason, one tiny reason, to live.
As she delved further, searched deeper, any glimmer of hope she had was extinguished. Wilderness surrounded her. A stark, empty, forlorn barrenness.
As the light of dawn broke and dispelled the darkness, she stood up from the rock where she sat, the decision made. A gust of wind caught her red-brown hair and, as it swirled about her, she gloried in the freedom of her new course. Since she had nothing to live for -- no one to live for -- she would stop living. She did not know when or how, but she knew the day would come -- and come soon -- when she would end her life. Momentarily, she recalled the Law, and knew that to kill herself was to murder and would separate her from the God of her Fathers; but Law, in her heart, had no hope -- and without hope there was no life.
The sun's rays caught the crest of a wave that danced toward her. She moved back from the water instinctively, realizing even in this freedom of death, the reality of life -- wet robes would be uncomfortable, cold, and heavy as she walked home.
A man came toward her. She saw the boldness in his eyes and the cocky smirk that played the corners of his mouth. He was a large man, broad shouldered and big muscled with dark curly hair and beard. Normally, she would have played with him ... teased him. But not this morning. The seductive gestures, coy looks, and bawdy words that came so naturally to her were gone. Free from life, free from a future, she also was free from the demands of her past.
Without a word, with hardly a glance toward him, Mary slowly turned, pulled her cloak tightly about her, and walked away.
In 1978 to 1982, I was Bible-teaching men every Tuesday noontime at an Omaha downtown skidrow missions location. One day in the Fall of 1980 when I arrived, one of the older cowboy fellows, Frankie, looked frustrated. He told me that across the street a woman had jumped from a window about 7 stories up and had landed on a roof a story above the street and died of suicide. Basically, he said, "Why would anyone do that? And why would a woman ever make that choice?" His life hadn't been perfect, believe me, and he'd been through a lot with his alcohol and farm and ranch battles with men. I was so surprised that he didn't know "reality". I'd thought of suicide often from the age of 12 ... because I was so tired of fighting for making it through a day. I'd changed my mind about suicide after I had come to the Lord when nearly 21, but occasionally still struggled with that until I was 29. I tried to get Frankie to understand that the suicide was a challenge to avoid sometimes and that the Lord could bring victory to us through growing in Him, through more and more of His people entering our hearts.
Later, as I was driving home, I wanted to somehow write a story that would help Frankie understand. Before I pulled into my driveway, I had already thought of Mary Magdalene. Within a couple of weeks, I wrote 9 scenes. Four years later, for Lenten services in 1984, I wrote the Mary Magdalene monologue, which I have performed many times over the years. I have been "her" in many ways ... my early behavior, struggles, frustration, grief for life, desire for death and NOW the joy of having a loving Father, and kind Savior and Brother, and, through those caring Ones, filled with deliverance and healing.
Leading to Resurrection Sunday I will be sharing the next 7 scenes, and ending immediately thereafter with the Ascension scene... can't put it off for those 40 days! Joyfulness can be a good thing!