Noli Me Tangere

I wrote this poem on Easter Sunday 2020. In these times when we are having to keep our distance from each other in order to keep each other safe, Jesus’ words to Mary, “do not touch me” or “do not hold onto me”, seem to take on a new significance. In the figure of the risen Christa we meet the God who cannot be held onto or pinned down into something neat and manageable. She is more than that, and freer than that. And she invites us into the freedom of her risen life. Even as we continue to experience the constraints and limitations of the restrictions we are currently living with, we can catch glimpses of resurrection joy and hope, and allow those glimpses to open our minds and hearts to a more expansive, more liberating vision of God, our neighbours and ourselves.  

‘Noli me tangere’ (‘Do not touch me’) 

In the distance between us,
Christa is risen,
shimmering footloose and fancy-free
across the dew-damp grass,
no more contained by lockdown
than by liturgy.

She will not be
constrained, held back,
grabbed, groped, caught.

She will not be
confined to her allotted place,
made small enough to fit
the expectations of our gaze.

She will not be reduced
to what people can manage.

She takes up space,
laughs too loudly, talks too much,
is more than anyone can handle,
strides straight out of the rooms
we have prepared for her,
to gossip on street corners
with unsuitable strangers.

Stand back and watch her rise,
beyond even the furthest boundaries
of what we ever dreamt
this re-born God could be:
transformed by light which pours
from open wounds.

‘Do not touch’, but
sing, shout, laugh, dance
with all the wild delight
of her risen life in you.

Christa – the female figure of Christ – emerges from a tradition of female forms of the Divine which stretches back to the earliest days of Christian history in art and theological writing, though it has often been suppressed by a male-dominated, patriarchal church. For contemporary Christian feminists, Christa can provide a freer and more expansive way of exploring Christological concepts and doctrines, in ways which move away from the patriarchal frameworks in which these theologies have become entangled.

My own journey with Christa has been most strongly influenced by the poetry of Nicola Slee (“Seeking the Risen Christa” (SPCK, 2011)) and the art of Caroline Mackenzie (https://carolinemackenzie.co.uk/).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s