My Beloved, Yeshua,
These words fall on your tomb this night, my letter to the dead. My heart would burst without these vellums to contain it. I remain your faithful follower, your devoted 'ezar k'negdo. Your teachings breathe my belly, Rebbe. I am eternally your disciple. I would lie with you one last time under this full moon, the watchful eye of God, the distended belly of the Mother, Great Ima. Long these hours of your passing, I have wailed my sorrow to Shekinah. Beside your apostles I have mourned, and with the woman you called mame. My vigil I have continued into the night long after all have departed. My robes I have torn, and rivers of tears I have shed into the soft valleys of my body, moisture collecting in the crevices and cracks below my belly, between my thighs, anointing the ground before your tomb with my grief.
Hear my lament this waning night: as woman, I am alone amongst your disciples. Why must I feel the loss of my beloved as none other of your followers do? Did our Lord, Adonai, understand that if my heart, the heart of a woman, beat in your chest, you would not abandon me for the sake of the world's redemption? My head is bowed in prayer. How can I accept this cruel betrayal, this bloody act, this senseless sacrifice? You spoke of redemption. There is a part of me, like Tomas, who doubts. Is there no end to this suffering? I have not the strength to bear your burden. But, Yeshua, my own burden weighs heavy on my soul. It sinks me to my knees. I pray your name to heaven, second only to our Father, yet the heart of my body speaks only an unfulfilled yearning. Why must the fulfillment of the spirit leave this ache in my body? Where are you, my Yeshua? My yarah, I am your disciple, but I am also your wife, and my heart follows you to death and beyond.
I was your chosen one, and none who sat at your feet showed greater devotion than I. Even in the earliest hours after your death, I longed to share with our circle the sacred knowledge that was revealed through our holy union. Petra, your rock, in his lust to be favored, speaks now against me. To Barak he speaks his jealousies, that my sins are greater than the mirsha'ath, she who you saved from stoning. Could this be so, my beloved, could you speak this in my eyes? I am no fallen woman, but I cannot deny that my love for you is beyond any, beyond the love of Yaacov or Yochanan. I am no rock, no stone, no blade. My heart soft, my body a vessel, I am a sacred chalice whose purpose is only to be filled. You have taught me this. You are teaching this now, even in your death.
For my very nature, shall I seek absolution? Could it be that I am a sin? Does your Petra speak the truth? Rebbe, all who have heard with their hearts have been awash in your wine, yet while man burns your spirits to the heavens, woman drinks them deeply into her body. Would you fault a wild dog for scavenging, a sheep for bleating, the Joshua tree for raising its limbs to the heavens in prayer? How can they judge me for being what God made me? Where else would your gifts sleep in this earthly world but in my breast, my belly, my womb? No loyalty, no devotion was more fierce than mine. Never could I have denied you my deepest surrender, my body, my blood, my most yielding, secret self. In my heart of hearts I know it is no sin, my hunger for your blessed hand upon my head, your unshorn hair upon my lips, the grace of your breath upon my ribs.
My only sin lies in denying it for fear of reprisal amongst your apostles. Petra and your men would speak of the union as now the Pharisees do in their betrayal of the truth, as a profanity and not as the sacred union of heaven and earth. My beloved, I have denied the great truth that sprang from our union. You are gone, I have no more net around my fishes, no shoreline to follow home, no Bethlehem's star to lead me back to your birth. I am lost. You must forgive me for betraying you, my Yeshua, you must forgive me for betraying my own heart.
I cannot forget those honeyed moments when I was your woman, your bone, your flesh, when you pressed me to the olive tree, and I tasted salt on your lips and begged for more. How could we not allow our bodies, also, to declare our oneness? Already, we were one in spirit, like twining limbs that grow together over time. I never felt separate from you. For me, you were the kingdom of which you spoke and I lived there every moment. My soul never went hungry. You were ever my bread and wine.
How could we be separate in the flesh if we were not meant to come together as one? Why else would Adonai breathe his life into the separate forms of man and woman? Is it not the same breath that gives life to both? Woman is no original sinner. I am no original sinner. Those words passed from your mouth to mine, your heart to mine. Shall I forgive your men, for they know not what they do? What does not stir with the breath of the Father, who is not quickened with his life—man or woman, slave or free, Jew or Greek? I want you here, now, to speak these words from your lips to all that would hear. The comfort of the sound of your voice would be enough for me.
Yeshua, I am cleaved in half without you. I would that you would hold me, allow me to flow through your wounds. Would that it had been me. You already know my confession—I would have given myself in your place. Not for the sake of all, but for the sake of myself, so that I would not have to bear the pain of your loss. Once you told me your message could not have come into the world if not through me. Only now, after you are gone, do I understand what I gave you. You needed me, woman, this worldly vessel, to evoke the deepest, darkest, impassioned truth of you.
This night my breath moves in my body, whirling me to the winds. I can feel the swell of beauty, the rippling tides you sought in me, how it gifted you into life, into your own gift and greatness. My belly, full, open, wide, contains the world. Through you I have awoken to who I am. These days of your death, I have cried into the whole of yearning. This pain is eternal. How much our love is contained in the beauty of our pain. The weight of this life is a curse. I can feel my urge to sink, the pull of my soul calling. My heart is heavy with it, gaping. It is your heart still beating within my breast, not mine own.
I walked through the city yesterday, a brief respite from my vigil with you. I could feel it in all those who crossed my path, what you meant with those words: "If the flesh came into being because of spirit, that is a marvel, but if spirit came into being because of the body, that is a marvel of marvels... yet I marvel at how this great wealth has come to dwell in this poverty." Is this the poverty of spirit that you felt, every day, every moment: the sickness growing in this man's belly... the stiff ache of this woman's hips... the hungry eyes of men... the longing eyes of women... all the babies born and dying already as you passed? I felt it yestermorn and was grieved. This life is a stone in the desert, and your sacrifice compels my deepest heart to breathe past the borders of the flesh, of the world, to breathe it all as the waves of love. It is the joining of our hearts, our minds, our bodies, that brings me to this.
I bought meat in the marketplace, but could not taste it. Like a beast, I fed, but no hunger in me was sated. I wanted to taste you. I wanted to caress your face the way you know, the way I know. It was not to be. It is no more. Soldier's blades fell into a dark hole in my breast while someone held my heart in their hands, pressing my blood out to feed a barren land. I was overtaken, yet my breasts felt beautiful, as if responding to your presence. That moment has passed, leaving my breasts feeling big and bottom-heavy, and starved of all tenderness.
Was my wanting you a sin? Your spirit moved through me, your flesh moved in me. I was filled. Even now I feel the immensity of your love, the limitlessness of your acceptance. It feels like home. You are here with me now, Yeshua, as you have always been and will always be, even in those moments when I am weary, tight and small. That is my shape now, a lamb before the altar stone. I remember other shapes. I was a lotus, the source of sorrow, floating next to you, feeling the yearning to be entered in my me'ah like a pulse. I was a serpent, your temptress, basking in the sun, the slight undulation of my belly beckoning you. What form could I have taken that you would not love?
Do not ask me to be only your disciple, your talmid. I am your woman. My raw heart is cracked open and bleeding into the earth. My body is unbound. The whole plain of heaven could not contain the flood of my grief. I am woman, Yeshua, and I want what women want: her man-- home, children, and life, as it flows deep under the desert, love's cool, secret wellspring. Yes, I am a teacher, a scholar, your follower, a seeker and speaker of your truth and my own, but I am first a woman. Your absence now reveals that to me. Grieve for me, my Lord, for naught was more important to me than our bodies as one, coupled under the stars.
Dawn rises on this third shive, consoling the desert chill. When I am an old woman, my knees will have hollowed the ground before your tomb. Yet we will be married in death as we were in life. I speak this letter into your ear, my cheek against your warm neck, my prayer to you. Yeshua, we are one.