Changing Clothes: A Spiritual Excercise

See Soulwork Toward Sunday: self-guided retreat
Proper 25 (year B), October 28, 2012
“Blind Bartimaeus”

detail, Crucifixion, Van Eyck

In the first chapter of Gordon W. Lathrop’s Holy Ground: A Liturgical Cosmology, he discusses the story of Bartimaeus, Son of Timaeus. Here is an interesting line of thought in which clothing plays a part:

Bartimaeus throws off his cloak and follows Jesus “on the way” to the passion in Jerusalem. (Mark 10:46-52)

A young man slips out of his garment and runs away naked as a soldier grabs at him in the Garden of Gethsemane. (Mark 14:51)

A young man dressed in white (baptismal clothes?) witnesses to the resurrection of Christ at the sepulcher. (Mark16:5)

Lathrop writes, “These latter two figures have been linked in recent exegesis of Mark, and the single ‘young man’ has been seen as a type of the newly baptized, of those who are immersed in the death of Jesus in order to be clothed in his life and made witnesses of the resurrection.”

Here’s a suggestion for meditation this week.
Imagine four scenarios.

First. What does your cloak represent? You call out to the Beloved. The Beloved responds with an invitation. You know instinctively to throw off your cloak and whatever your cloak represents.

Second. The Beloved is taken away. You are left, naked, vulnerable, in danger, in utter not-knowing.

Third. What does the white garment represent? And the empty tomb? What are you doing there?

To bring the exercise to completion follow through to the inevitable next scene. Christian life truly begins after folding the white robe. (Perhaps saving your baptismal gown for grave clothes as many Christians do, symbolic of birth into heaven) and putting on work clothes.

The Christian life matures through seasons of penance and purgation, of illumination and nights of the soul, of union and being sent out. Not only does the Christian evoke this life ritually in the liturgical year, but cultivates this movement in a transformative inner life.

-Have fun,

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