A few words from Maeve on words

by Elizabeth Cunningham

I’ve been absent from this blog for six weeks, except in the comment section. Elizabeth’s experiment is now complete and we are awaiting results. So I want to say a brief hello. Elizabeth, who pulled her back out (probably as a result of stuffing almost 400 copies of MaevenSong into envelopes last Friday) will not be able to type for me for long today. She and I both welcome topics for future blogs.

Last week Elizabeth wrote about song.When we memorized lessons at druid school the phrase we used was “to sing over.” Words went in more quickly and deeply when they were sung rather than spoken. We also used alliteration and rhythm. Even law was poetry, delivered in triads. Centuries before computers, everything was linked to everything else. The letters of our ceremonial alphabet had the names of trees that were associated with moons. We saw the shapes of these letters in the wings of birds in flight. Each finger of each hand represented different branches of story cycles. Everything not only had speech; everything was speech. Inside our skulls (no wonder we revered skulls) were libraries to rival any in the ancient (or modern!)world.

Although Joseph of Arimathea taught me to read and write and though Elizabeth has now written thousands of pages of my story, I continue to feel ambivalent about the written word. Word in print tempts people to literalism, fundamentalism. How many times have you heard people say, “It is written,” as if that settled it once and for all. How much trouble has been caused by the Epilogue of the Book of Revelation in which the author proclaims: “This is my solemn attestation to all who hear the prophecies in this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him every plague mentioned in this book; if anyone cuts anything out of the prophecies in this book, God will cut off his share of the tree of life and of the holy city, which are described in this book.” Editors, beware! Very likely the author meant to refer only to his own manuscript, but some people have taken it to mean there can be no further revelations in the Christian tradition at all. Period.

That said, I want to tell you something I love about the Bible, something I think is brilliant, something people rarely mention, except in scholarly circles. There are four Gospels, and all of them are different! They were written at different times from different traditions for different audiences. If there is only one literal truth and one way of interpreting that truth, why is this so? If the Bible is divinely inspired, what does four versions of the same story say about the nature of divine inspiration?

I’m just saying, I’m just asking. Think about it. It is time for Elizabeth to stop typing and get up and go outside to listen to the speech of trees, how it changes when late light turns the branches orange, and when they groan as they contract with cold. Time to read the flight of birds before they settle for the night. Time to hear the stream sing softly under the ice.

for more about The Maeve Chronicles: www.passionofmarymagdalen.com

You may also like


Elizabeth Cunningham January 12, 2010 - 9:35 pm

Welcome back, Maeve! Thanks for urging me to go outside. I could use some fire of the stars for my back, though.

Readers, do suggest topics for either of us. Thanks!

DavidASosa January 12, 2010 - 11:35 pm

exactly! Not everyone knows the same person and has the same exact experiences, or relationships with that person. Its why I try to say "My Jesus, or My Goddess, can be different than yours if they are indeed the one and the same!"

faerian January 13, 2010 - 1:17 am

welcome back Maeve…and may your back be better soon Elizabeth…
i bless the written word because i live so far away from Elizabeth and if it "wasn't written" it would have been so less immediate to find her and Maeve's story (i am sure somehow, it would have happened as i feel so at home in their presence but New Zealand is a loooong way away)… i wonder if it is too scary for us to listen to the earth in that way after all the injuries she has recieved at our hands?… but sleeping under the stars (which our family does one night a year) sustains some kind of magic within us…and stories fire my soul… i remember so much when i hear the words Elizabeth and Maeve write (i am having a hard time dragging myself back from Magdala at the moment… i want to bathe my feet in that spring, smell that orchard, drink that wine, sing those songs…)each of us has a common experience and a unique experience which story telling helps us weave together….ahhh deep sigh inside

Tim Dillinger January 13, 2010 - 11:41 am

It's so funny. We were having this discussion on my facebook page and people get so offended when your interpretation of the holy word is not the same as theirs!

I guess because the written word was such a place of solace for me when I was growing up–and still is–I have an affinity for the written words, but am aware that what I read and how I interpret it cannot be attributed to the writer. It is seen through my lense of life and experience.

Elizabeth–You can go hang out in the trees if you want, but I hope when you come down, you still want to sit on the computer and let the words flow.

Maeve–Thank you for being willing to write even though the necessity of it escapes you 🙂 And thank you for letting Elizabeth tell your story.

Unknown January 13, 2010 - 2:27 pm

I'm one for the written word, Maeve. I don't think I could have been a storyteller in an oral-only world. I know Elizabeth could have been.

However, Maeve, your words, written down, are so poetic. I'm glad you have such an inspired transcriber.


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: