Once upon a time in the beginning of things, all was going well until … When Lilith left the Garden, she was singing the songs the angels sing, as she had spent that part of eternity that she had existed listening to them and trying to learn them, while Adam busied himself with the naming of the animals. She knew, call it her first intuition, that the songs would need to be kept alive as she saw the end of the Garden coming in the behaviors of Adam, and his need for control of everything, including her. She knew that these songs would be like the songs that mothers would need to sing to their children, though she and Adam had not yet created a child, which would have made her a mother, and so she worked the songs over and over in her voice, mind and soul until they became the story I’m about to tell.
You probably already know the story about the first control problem that grew between some of the angels and God about humans having an immortal soul, and how things turned to greed and jealousy and led to the battles between the angels. Eventually and similarly came Adam’s control and anger about things that Lilith had seen coming for a long time, and so she left the Garden, not in anger, but just as a means to calm herself and to find another way to be in this world. As she did not return, and as Adam did not come looking for her to apologize and make peace, she learned that Adam had asked God to make him someone new, someone submissive to his will, and that God did so using one of Adam’s ribs. And then the fall of humans from eternity into mortality came to pass when Adam and Eve’s lack of control led them to greed and jealousy, but Lilith was long gone and so suffered through none of what she would later call the sin of the first eternity, and its ending for all but her.
Lilith wandered for what became now many years, as she knew nothing of the world outside the Garden, but she remembered God having spoken once of a place he had named Provence, in the south of what he called France, where he had placed everything that was left over from when the world was created. She had decided to go there, but that took a long time because places did not yet have names, nor time meaning. One day when she was walking, a strong wind came funneling down a vast valley fueled by the cold air from the mountains that she had crossed, and the wind following a river, made a whistling noise that when she leaned into it, it sounded as if it had a few notes from the angels’ songs. So she listened and, indeed, it began to form a few of the words, and she smiled to herself and thought that she must have found Provence, the Other Garden.
She built a small house near the seacoast near the mouth of the river and she spent her days there just enjoying and exploring all the things that God had left after creation, which it turned out, was quite a bit, like pure white horses and pink flamingos and fields of aromatic lavender, and beautifully colored small mountain formations that framed wondrous valleys and made for fantastic sunrises and sunsets. She came to believe that she had truly found what she called the Other Garden.
Many years later, the humans who had originally settled in the caves spread out from them and came into the valley where she lived and built a small town, and she lived among them. They were very artistic and spiritual people and they named the river, the Rhone, and the wind, the Mistral. Though she never aged because she was still eternal without having participated in the sin of the first eternity, they came to revere her as someone special and she just went along with that and tried to teach them the way things were before mortality, and they loved and cherished the stories, and greatly enjoyed when she sang the songs that the angels sing.
Then one early Spring, as the seasons, too, were eventually named, a traveling gypsy group, populated by wandering and exploring and generally peaceful people, in whom she saw much of herself in her early days out of the Garden searching for Provence, came to town and she was struck by their music and wandering life, and she studied them looking for what she felt was some spiritual and blessed connection. One night, as the Mistral wind blew and the gypsies played and sang and danced, a thought grew in her mind to have a child. Shortly thereafter, she had a long talk with God, who still visited her from time to time, and she decided to trade her eternity for a daughter, as she was becoming tired of eternity and wanted to feel this mortal life, with its pure pains and pleasures, like childbirth, and to leave some of herself in this Other Garden. So she and God spoke at length about this and that and then the decision was agreed to and the potential made done through the powers of the Holy Spirit.
How this happened was very interesting and began one very dark night when the Mistral wind was howling especially loud. It woke her, and she stepped out into the dark and felt a strange warmness come upon her. She began to sing the songs the angels sing as if they were being drawn out of her body, and then the wind joined her in the singing and the songs grew and grew in volume and strength. Then she felt the presence of something upon her skin, and her body grew warm and her heart raced and her breath came and went in gasps, and then she swooned and was lost in a tingling all over and through her body. Her mind blanked and her soul trembled, and she fell from the hold of the wind to the ground in total exhaustion, and the wind and the songs that the an-gels sing suddenly stopped, and she fell deeply asleep.
When she woke she felt tired, which she had never felt before, and hungry, which she had never felt before, and stiff in her muscles, and all these sensations were new, and she realized that what she was feeling was mortality. She smiled and walked in to the small village to gather what she knew she would now need for the first time in her life. On her walk into the village, God came to her and shared that He had used this opportunity of her trade of eternity for a child to do something much larger for humans and hoped that she would understand. He said that she would receive not just her child, as she had originally bargained, but that all humans, too, would get a special child, the Son of God. God explained that from her special night before, a daughter was immaculately conceived in her through the Holy Spirit, and also was another daughter immaculately conceived in Anne, in a faraway place from Provence, and that, that daughter would grow up to be the mother who would be named Mary. Mary would, in turn, bear the special child, who would be the Son of God, who would be born upon a journey such as the one that had brought her to Provence and that He, the Son of God, who through his life, would be part of a larger promised plan to provide a means for all humans to have a passage to the other eternity.
God explained that immaculate conception meant that Lilith’s and Anne’s daughters would be born free of the sin of the first eternity and that they would both be filled with sanctifying Grace, and therefore different than all other humans. All of this information overwhelmed Lilith, and her mortality was so new to her, and the conversation with God so strange and confusing, that she chose to think that God knew best and as she knew nothing of conception, immaculate or otherwise, she focused simply on getting to the village for provisions.
Lilith was with child the appropriate time and then one silent and still night to her was born a daughter as promised, and Lilith named her Seery, for the gypsy people, who she credited with having created the idea for a daughter in her mind back before she had struck her bargain with God. Seery grew, played and flourished, and enjoyed a special relationship with God, who seemed to come more often to visit Lilith than He had before, and He even helped Lilith teach Seery the songs that the an-gels sing, as Lilith, now slowly aging in her mortality, had occasionally become sometimes forgetful. As Seery grew and Lilith aged, the towns-people began to revere Seery the same way that they held Lilith in such high esteem, and Seery became a leader and a servant to the people, teaching them things that her mother and God had taught her.
Time passed and Lilith grew ever older and the people noticed this and thought that she was sick or dying, but as she had been eternal, her mortality progressed much more slowly than the people’s, but the signs were there. Then came another strange night, which also awakened her, and when she stepped outside the Mistral wind was again blowing and singing the songs that the angels sing. That same strange physical experience came over her again and she felt like the days before her mortality. In the distance, she saw a boat floundering just off shore. She quickly woke Seery, and drew her to her side, and then as if possessed, they together began to sing the songs that the angels sing. They ran to the shore and both opened their arms. The cloaks that they had wrapped around themselves became long and bound together miraculously, and extended and spanned out to the boat and wrapped around the bow, and gently steered the boat to shore before them. The passengers inside were five ladies and two men, and they were so excited in their rescue, and grateful and exhausted, and yet they seemed to somehow know Lilith. The villagers came and everyone shared in the assisting of the travelers to safety and warmth and sleep.
The next morning when the rescued travelers were more recovered and collected, Lilith and the travelers exchanged stories of their travels and then they understood the connections. The three Marys, Martha, Sara, Lazarus and Joseph, were part of what happened to Jesus, who they called the Son of God, in his life and at his crucifixion, death and resurrection, as you may also know that story.
One Mary was Mary Salome, the mother of the apostles James and John, and related to Jesus’ mother, Mary, who was the one immaculately conceived by Anne that special night when Lilith so too conceived Seery.
The second was Mary Jacobe, sister to Joseph, Jesus’ father. Sara was the child maid to Mary Jacobe and of gypsy lineage. The third was Mary Magdalene, who was great with child, and who was sister to Martha and Lazarus. The travelers told the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead by Jesus.
Lastly, Joseph of Arimethia, uncle to Mary Magdalene, Martha, and Lazarus. Joseph of Arimethia had provide the tomb for Jesus after his death, and from where he rose from the dead, and whose ship it was that the travelers had escaped in from Alexandria before being abducted and persecuted by the Romans for their associations with Jesus.
As things came to be known and now better understood, Lilith remembered that special night of the passing of her eternity and she under-stood that what God had spoken of was this man, Jesus, who through the immaculate conception of Mary through the Holy Spirit within Anne, and also herself that same night, in what was more than a request and an agreement, but something much larger in God’s never-ending plans.
The time between the rescue and the coming to understand the connections was short, when Mary Magdalene’s time to give birth had arrived, and so the woman prepared to assist her. It was a quick and beautiful birth. It was a girl, and she was named Lily for her innocence, beauty, and purity, and to honor her rescuers. Lily was passed to each of the many women in the room and when Lilith finally held her, she slowly rose up with the child in her arms and they both began to glow, and breathlessly the songs that the angels sing came from her mouth, and then Seery joined in, raising the volume and power of the songs. As the songs the angels sing grew louder and louder, the Mistral wind outside joined in and all around everyone was astonished, and then strangely everything became silent. Then it was only Lily eerily singing alone in the most perfect voice. Lilith slowly and quietly began to slip toward the floor as Seery quickly took hold of Lily from her mother’s arms. One of the Marys helped her to the floor and slowly closed her eyes, for Lilith was dead. She had passed into the other eternity. A throng of angels came for her soul, singing the songs that the angels sing, and all was well and good in the Other Garden.
That small town in Provence in the south of France would come to be called Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, Saint Marys of the Sea, which I visited a few years ago and where I first came to know this story. I often reflect upon the story of Lilith and Seery and Lily and the songs that the angels sing and the small village of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in Provence in the south of France, and I take personal note of all the exchanges, large and small, that we all make of one eternity for the other, every day for the rest of our other eternity. And that is all of the story that I plan to share with you now. Amen.