Sunday, April 20, 2014

Noli Me Tangere

Noli Me Tangere

‘Noli me tangere’, he quietly said
‘Do not touch me.’
But how could I not reach out
for my Dear One?
How could I not long to hold
even the hem of his garment,
gain some measure of substance
for what I had thought was lost to me?

Around us, all was still.
Even the birds had fallen silent
in the still air of that miraculous place
as if in wonder at this marvel.
And I, overcome, reached towards him.

‘Noli me tangere’, he softly said
in caution and in love.
Neither man nor shade,
but part of both these things:
a creature between worlds,
between realms, between kingdoms,
between what has been
and what is still to come.
And I reached out to him.

But ‘noli me tangere’, he said.
And I must stay my hand
And my great longing.
And so I showed him my greatest love
as he intended, and as he already knew.
For what he already knew
was that he would never be lost to me.
And my greatest love, in knowing this,
was to let him go.


Painting of Mary Magdalene by Gheorghe Tattarescu


  1. The exquisite beauty and depth of this poem make it a profoundly moving one. It is written from the vantage point of Mary Magdalene. The poem explores the conflicting layers of emotion that must have gone through her when she was told not to touch the resurrected Christ, someone with whom she was close to only a few days ago in earthly form. The poem describes the mix of conflicting feelings of great joy, intense love and bittersweet pain. The form that she was so familiar with has changed forevermore. In our own perhaps mundane lives people change, grow old, get sick and eventually die. Our loved ones are here only for a temporary period of time in a particular form. When the form we equate with our loved one changes we suffer loss and pain. But change is inevitable and is in the nature of the phenomenal world. However, like Mary we may be able to let go of the outer form that love takes and connect directly to its very source. In so doing we connect to the deepest realm of love, a timelessness that transcends the temporary. This is so beautifully expressed here. Thank you Emma for sharing with us this remarkable poem.

  2. Joseph, I am ever so grateful for your perceptive response to my words which, as you know, welled up from my own wounded soul.
    Letting go of the beloved is an act of love.

  3. That heart wrenching moment when one we love with all that we are, leaves us. And we remain, heartbroken, in pain, doubting all we know and are. It is our grace to retract the outstretched hand, to bow our head, to release.

    1. Thank you, Joss, your words resonate with me... only through grace can we find the courage truly to let go.