Marie-Elsa Bragg

Radio 4 Sunday Worship Reinventing Eden, 3 September 2017

Marie-Elsa contributed a piece on Gethsemane linking it with the story of Sisyphus.
Reinventing Eden
Sunday Worship

Sunday Worship visits the garden of Lambeth Palace, home of the Archbishop of Canterbury, during their summer opening to the public. The service journeys from the Garden of Eden to Gethsemane to the river of the water of life - Eden restored - at the end of the Book of Revelation. It features reflections from the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury and the author Marie Elsa Bragg. The service is led by the Revd Isabelle Hamley, Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the preacher is the Dean of Clare College, Cambridge, the Revd Dr Jamie Hawkey. The music is led by St Martin’s Voices from St Martin-in-the-Fields. Producer Andrew Earis.

Seeds of ascension were in Gethsemane.
The apple became the olive; knowledge
turned to surrender. Above was the Mount
of Olives where Jesus would ascend. Light
whitening our faces, so that, for a moment,

there would be no sleep; no day or night.
Ground would then reclaim us; our eyes
blinking as we fall back into the garden.
Once more in doubt, prostrate in grief.
The weight of our lives like a boulder
to be rolled once more towards the peak;
a storm, an avalanche, an absurd weight
ever cutting in to draw us back.
Sisyphus pushed his dusty rock with
Persephone watching unseen from behind.
A winter rich in fermentation for spring.
Jesus grieved in Gethsemane, prostrate
to the east. A dark eye of tomb in the valley.
Its stone walls painted with seasons and seas;
linen soon imprinted. I dreamt once
that I pushed my boulder so close to the peak
it rolled back and through Gethsemane, down
to the tomb. I dreamt it was the rock
they used to close Him in. When I arrived,
I set my shoulder to the chipped stone and
pushed again towards the peak. On my way,
I passed a gardener and a woman standing
so still it was as if they had no breath. And
somewhere in the evening chorus, I heard
a noise that could have been my name.
I think the woman held a dusty veil.
I think the gardener’s palms were marked with seeds.