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.

The seeds of ascension were in Gethsemane.
The apple became the olive;
The pain of knowledge turning to surrender.
Above was the Mount of Olives
where Jesus would ascend and light
would whitened 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.
Falling again into doubt, prostrate in grief.
The weight of our lives now 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 arrogance with
Persephone watching unseen from behind.
A winter rich in fermentation for spring.
Jesus grieved in Gethsemane
prostrate to the east,
the dark eye of a tomb
in the valley below.
Its stone walls painted
with seasons and seas,
the 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 one they used
to close Him in. When I arrived
in search of it I set my shoulder
to the chipped stone, pushing it
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.