Persephone Rising

Persephone Rising     by Jinny Batterson

(In memory of a lifelong friend, Beth, who died in 2013, just short of Easter.)

Our Christian traditions shortchange daughters.
We have God the Father, Mary the Mother, Jesus the Son, but…
If Jesus had any sisters, we never hear about them.
To find a daughter, we need to turn to Greek myth.

Long before Christ walked the shores of Galilee,
There was another lake, another springtime,
A mother and a daughter.

Demeter cherished Persephone
And nurtured her toward womanhood
With all the tenderness mothering knew.
Yet there came a time, there always does,
To let her daughter go–to gather her own blossoms,
To catch the glint of sun on water, to know the revolving
Of life’s cycles.

Life cycles through dark as well as light.
Persephone was abducted to the underworld
By a jealous suitor, who kept her there for long months.

Demeter mourned.
Earth grew dry, cold, harsh, until
Just a few grains remained. People were hungry.
Nothing grew. It seemed nothing could grow, ever again.

Not so.

Life cycles through light as well as dark.
Persephone was restored to her mother.
Earth flowered, pastures greened, fillies frolicked in the meadows.

Yet there was a catch. There nearly always is:
Persephone ate a seed in the underworld,
A seed that could only sprout with her care.
So each year she returned underground for several months,
Dying to help restore life.

Persephone’s death is not a once-for-all-time,
Redeem-the-sins-of-the-whole-world,
Slam-bam-thank-you-ma’am kind of death.
She dies, and lives, over and over,
Honoring her own cycles and earth’s.

Mourning with Demeter, I take heart, too,
That the longer cycles will hold.
Just as we need sons to recall unique heroism,
We need daughters to remind us of life’s turnings.

So in springtime, Easter does not fully come to me
Until I can sense, alongside the risen Christ,
Like the faintest of spring mists,
Persephone rising.

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