By Kathleen Nichols
Paddleboarding from Magdala to Capernaum takes a little under three hours, and I have made the crossing several times in the past weeks. The Sea of Galilee in the early morning is generally calm, and around dawn, the northern part of the lake is especially peaceful. As I lead my brother, his wife, and some friends over the Sea just a few days ago, my mind returned to a reflection I had in this same area two years ago.
Approaching the shore just as the sunlight broke through the clouds low on the horizon, I sat down on the edge of my board to dangle my tired feet in the water waiting for my small group of paddleboarders to catch up. As I bent down, I saw my own surprisingly clear reflection in the water.
Clear in the mirrored silver could arise
Instantly, by some spell,
The long-awaited eyes
That traced deep in my heart
(St. John of the Cross, Spiritual Canticle)
At times I think of the Sea of Galilee as the humble eye of God, seeking us out from the lowest place on Earth – only the Dead Sea is lower. He seeks me. He watches me with loving eyes. He is found in the depths – in my own heart – in the profound longing I have to love and be loved, always and ever more fully and completely. He is found in the look, the word, the gesture, the need of each and every person around me… that is where I find those, “long awaited eyes, that in my heart I recognize.”
Perhaps, Mary Magdalene encountered Jesus while looking out over the waters, seeking meaning. Perhaps, His eyes resembled the colors and contrasts of the Sea of Galilee near her home. Maybe she caught a glimpse of His reflection on these waters and recognized in His gaze the fulfillment of unidentified longings within her heart.
Mary Magdalene was transformed by love and made beautiful in the Lord. As the Apostle to the Apostles, she carried the dazzling grace of her encounter to all who were hungry for God, for the rest of her life. She brought out His beauty in them through the power of His grace in and through her. As we prepare to celebrate Mary Magdalene’s feast day this upcoming July 22, let us allow Jesus to transform us with his gaze, and send us forth!