Noli Me Tangere.

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by Katherine Frisk, The Phaser.com


Easter has come and gone, but an extract from Richard’s Edmonson’s “Memoirs of Saint John” wafts around me like a heady incense:

Day is to night as night is to day, and the golden bird drops from the side of the world and becomes a shooting star. Foreseen only was the bitterness, but our bitterness turned to joy, for just as day becomes night, and sorrow becomes joy, so too does death become life. Given his raising of Lazarus, what transpired perhaps should have come as no surprise. Yet who could have foreseen it? Who would find fault with us for failing to imagine that Immutable Truth, in all of its wild tribes and reciprocities, might carve, file, and polish itself in such a manner? It was Mariamne who first saw him, early on the third morning, at the tomb of Joseph, where she had gone to wrap his body in spices. Only no body was there to be found. Rather she found someone very much alive. Later she would write a poem about the encounter, scribbled in her hand, onto a leaf of papyrus that I kept for many years, right up until the time of my second arrest, but then it was lost, as were so many other things out of my life at that time. Yet no matter, for strangely I still remember the poem, every word, in its entirety:

Noli Me Tangere

There, by the tomb in the light of morning, I saw what for me
Could not have been earned or thwarted—
You desiring to become perfectly lonely;
You living—your face transformed like the peak of a golden mountain,
Yet still your face;
You standing—your voice with its magic power, telling me all is expedient,
Yet still your voice;
You—enamored of the witch;
O madness, seek for me—with the rich generosity of a king
Kind to his slave—in this place, there or here;
Find a treasure house for your disciple, kindred in sorrow,
And pray never adjure, noli me tangere.

But she did not go mad again. And for this I was grateful. And maybe it was the love she felt for me that saved her. I should like very much to think so. Maybe also the directive he imparted to us—Go out and teach—had something to do with it as well, for yes, he did eventually appear to all of us, and yes, there was a difference. It was a matter of him looking more like “himself” than ever before. It was he, evolved into something more quintessentially him. He spoke with us, and even ate with us. We saw him in Jerusalem, and again at Gennesaret’s shore, and then we saw him no more. His body dissolved. But he had called us his friends. And he had laid down his life. And God had wiped away our tears.

O Ma’re, all we have is yours and all you have is ours.

One line struck me in the poem: “You desiring to become perfectly lonely;

I understand this for some reason.

Mother Theresa was a tortured woman. I remember reading an article in Time Magazine after she died. Even her photograph depicted a woman torn in two. She went out into the streets of Calcutta expecting in return spiritual ecstasy. Instead she was wracked by isolation and torment. The only time she ever felt relief was in the presence of the Pope, a father figure who towered above her, a crutch on which to be dependent. Had she forgotten her own becoming? Had she forgotten to become perfectly lonely, self empowered and self fulfilled? Had she forgotten those words, “Noli me tangere?

I knew a man once who was a great teacher. No, I have never forgotten you my friend. But he was a reluctant Messiah. He walked away, tired of sharing knowledge with his pupils on how to to fully become. They refused to do so and instead clung to him almost in worship. They did not hear his quiet voice whispering,

Noli Me Tangere.”

He strove not only to be perfectly lonely himself, but was showing others the way, a path they ignored and chose the glitz, the show-biz entertainment of it all, distractions, rituals and and more important, dependency instead, parroting his words without comprehension, until one day during a seminar he stormed out of an over crowded elevator  in disgust and asked, “Can’t you think of anything yourself?” His pupils were enslaving him and themselves at the same time.

They said he died from a heart attack in some big city hotel room, but I doubt it. I think he disappeared into the wilderness and flew biplanes instead. Taking his physical body where his soul had always been free to fly. A perfectly lonely looking sky without any encumbrances chaining him down. To quote Edmonson:

“It was a matter of him looking more like “himself” than ever before. It was he, evolved into something more quintessentially him.”

That was many years ago. I am sure by now his body has dissolved and no longer has the need for biplanes.

Angles walk amongst us, not to be a crutch, but to show us the way to “perfect loneliness,” unencumbered by need and greed, to discover our true selves, to evolve into something more quintessentially us, where in our souls we are paradisiacally free.