Sunday 1 April 2018

Happy Easter

'... she turned herself back and saw Jesus standing, and she knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, "Woman, why  weepest thou? Whom seekest thou?" She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, "Sir, if thou have born him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away." Jesus saith unto her, "Mary!" She turned herself, and saith unto him, "Rabboni"; which is to say, "Master".'
  This beautiful and mysterious incident in John's version of the Resurrection story can be glossed theologically: the risen Christ as gardener of the new Eden, culminating a gospel that begins, like Genesis, as a creation story. However, it also reads like one of those curious naturalistic details that give the gospel stories their particular flavour of truth-telling at many levels. Painters and engravers picked up on the homely image of Christ the gardener and ran with it: that's Dürer's version above, with Jesus, his wide-brimmed gardener's hat turned back, hefting a long-handled shovel as he tells Mary not to touch him, for he is not yet ascended to his Father.
Perhaps the most beautiful version is Rembrandt's Christ and Mary Magdalen at the Tomb, which is in the Royal Collection, and which I've posted here more than once. The face of Jesus [left], lit by the morning light of the garden and tinted with the rose-apricot of his wide-brimmed hat, is so tender and human that it's hard to imagine this Jesus uttering the 'Noli me tangere'... He could almost be the gardening Christ imagined by Mrs Hurstpierpoint in Ronald Firbank's Valmouth:

'With angelic humour Mrs Hurstpierpoint swept skyward her heavy-lidded eyes. 
'I thought last night, in my sleep,' she murmured, 'that Christ was my new gardener. I thought I saw Him in the Long Walk there, by the bed of Nelly Roche, tending a fallen flower with a wisp of bast.... "Oh, Seth," I said to Him... "remember the fresh lilies for the altar-vases... Cut all the myosotis there is," I said, "and grub plenty of fine, feathery moss..." And then, as He turned, I saw of course it was not Seth at all.'

Happy Easter to all who browse here.