I was truly inspired by the following passage from a book by Joan Norton and Margaret Starbird, and the timing of my “receiving it” yesterday evening; to the point I will be using it tomorrow during the 44th episode of Nurturing the Spiritual Spelunker in All of Us entitled, “Where is “this” going to lead us?”
Considering the journey across the sea described above, this jewel appears like the perfect illustration of my question. Enjoy!
Journey in a Boat with no Oars
Chapter 12 p. 72-73
From 14 Steps to Awaken the Sacred Feminine – Women in the Circle of Mary Magdalene, by Joan Norton and Margaret Starbird
Legends in Old French tell us of Joseph of Arimathea, the guardian of the Grail, and of Lazarus and Martha (of Bethany), travelling together with their sister Mary and two other Marys, Mary Salome and Mary Jacobi, the mother of James. Several other friends are with them: Maximus and Sedonius, according to some of the legends. The French legends say that this tiny group of pilgrims landed at Ratis on the shores of Gaul in a rudderless boat with no oars, about 42 CE. This open vessel, defying all odds, was guided only by the breath of Spirit blowing it across the storm-tossed sea and casting it upon the rock-strewn beaches of the Mediterranean shores of southern France.
Ratis was known for its temple honoring the Great Mother Cybele, so it is perhaps fitting that it was here that the Christian refugees from persecution in Jerusalem found sanctuary. Their only salvation was their passionate trust in their God and his plan for their safety and well-being. Their journey, buffeted by wind and rain, tossed by tempestuous seas, is the model for our own voyage on the sea of life, trusting implicitly in the guidance of the Holy Spirit to bring us safely to destination.
Reflections and Sharing
A boat is also a chalice, a grail, a place of “holding” life’s journey. It is a symbol of the “womb to womb” vessel of life of the Great Mother. After the Gospel tells us that Mary Magdalene was the woman who first saw the risen Christ and told the others, and after she met her Beloved again in the garden, she disappears from the official story. But that doesn’t mean she’s gone. We next find her in legend as a woman in a “fragile boat,” crossing to France with two other Marys, her brother Lazarus, and a child later called “Princess Sarah,” whom we understand as the daughter of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
This is the story of Mary Magdalene traveling in a boat with no oars, guided by the hand of God to a new and unknown life in the south of France. Among the relics we have of this journey story is a drawing of a small boat on the wall of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem with the words, “We went.”
Another very early Christian relic is a prayer rug woven in about 150 CE that shows the Holy Family, with their halos and Jesus in the center, in a “boat with no oars.” The story it commemorates in weaving is that the Holy Family of Jesus and Mary Magdalene went to France, perhaps fleeing in fear for their lives. In southern France Mary Magdalene is still celebrated in yearly pageants by the sea.
We can all find similarities in our own lives with this story of a dangerous passage to something mysterious and unknown to us. Perhaps we’re facing a new time of life that seems difficult, or perhaps we’re traveling in unknown waters inside ourselves, feeling betwixt and between ways of life.
The theme of leaving something behind and the unknown ahead is a part of everyone’s life. Mary Magdalene shows us the tremendous courage and faith it takes to “cross the great waters” and start anew. From her we learn that, despite tragedy, disappointment, or just resistance to change…we can go on in faith that our vessel is sacred and that a divine hand steers the boat.