Below is a brief excerpt from the chapter called “The Last Party” from my novel The Passion of Mary Magdalen, one of The Maeve Chronicles. Maeve and I reprint it here (with our own permission) as a seasonal offering. Readers in the region of New York State’s Hudson Valley, please join me this Friday, April 22nd, 7:30 at High Valley for a community reading of the four chapters that tell the Passion story. There will also be original music!
“Listen, my beloved companions, and remember,” Jesus said, as we passed the unleavened bread and drank the first cup of wine. “Whenever you break bread together or share a cup of wine, I’ll be with you, in your midst. Haven’t we always feasted together? Hasn’t there always been enough and more than enough? I tell you, whenever two or three gather together to share what they have, there I am. There is life. There is the Kingdom of Heaven. Remember. Remember me then.”
“But why do we have to remember you?” Peter burst out. “Where are you going!”
“Where I am going now, you can’t follow. Not yet. But you will in time.”
“But how will we find you if we don’t know where you’re going?” Tomas fretted. “How will we know the way?”
“I am the way,” Jesus said quietly.
That is all he said. Or that is all I remember. If the Last Party was indeed an evening of esoteric teaching, only those words remain with me. The words and how he looked at each of us in turn, letting us understand him in whatever way we could.
When he turned to me, I saw the path the rising moon makes across the water. I saw paths made by wild goats in mountain passes. I saw how a flower tracks the path of the sun, how waves part for a ship’s prow; I saw myself opening all my ways to him.
After the second cup of wine, we loosened up and began to sing somewhat irreverent ditties about the plagues of Egypt and then more dramatic ones about the parting of the Red Sea. With the third cup of wine, we sang the ecstatic victory song of Moses’s sister, Miriam. Then all the women took up tambourines (we always had those at a feast) and danced. Soon the men got up and danced in their own circle. And we all sang, songs with no words, the women ululating.
At last a hush fell. We stood bright-eyed and flushed, glistening with sweat, wild with love for each other, as we had been that last night at the Wedding of Cana. Jesus went and flung open the door, in case Elijah should be waiting to come in. Still on our feet, we drank the fourth cup of wine. Then Jesus set down the cup and crossed the room to me. He took my hand and kissed it, the kiss of a suppliant to his priestess. When he released my hand, I took his and kissed it, the kiss of a disciple to her teacher. Then we stood facing each other, not touching, as the companions made a circle around us. In one movement, we came together and kissed each other on the lips.