Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners
Now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
I’ve always been drawn to Mary, mother of Jesus, mother of God, mother of all of us. As a child, I was chosen one fine May to place a crown of flowers atop her head on a statue outside our church, part of the May Crowning celebration honoring her. When I watched The Song of Bernadette film just a few years later, I so wanted to be like Bernadette — holy enough to receive a visit from the Lady with the flowing gown who smelled of roses. I never did quite measure up, but maybe that’s okay. After thinking on such a possibility longer, I realized I might be a little too spooked if Mary really were to show up in, say, my bedroom.It just wasn’t the right setting. Obviously, I was not visitation material.
Even so, Mary had me in her gentle grasp. I remember as a teenager feeling grateful for her, because so many of the most prominent Biblical personalities were of the male variety. Pondering Mary was a relief to me as I glanced out into the world and prepared to take a brave step into what seemed at the time a very male-driven society.
When I did regrettable things during my young-adult/college years, it was Mary that I imagined watching from a quiet post in the corner, looking at me with sad eyes, whispering, “You are much better than that, dear one.” And later, it was Mary who wooed me toward motherhood, even as the world told me I really ought to accomplish X and X before accepting that vocation, and she who came to mind time and again as I set out to raise the children that resulted from my eventual trusting that all would be well somehow.
Recently, while listening to a radio program, I was reminded that all of the awesome male figures in society, past and present, were/are here because a woman gave life to them.So, too, God — God! — came into the world through a woman’s body. We are an important gender, are we not? We bear life!
One of the things I like the very most about this season is that we are more inclined to shine a spotlight on Mother Mary. Not that she would ask for it, but she certainly does deserve it. Mary always would be inclined to nudge the spotlight toward her son anyway, but recognizing her role in this life’s drama seems pretty significant to me.
But what I really wish is that we would not only pay mind to Mary during this season, but throughout the year. Her significance shouldn’t decrease, after all, just because the celebration of a babe in a manger has faded to black for a while. Mary was not just there at Jesus’ birth but throughout his life until, at last, she was called on to mother him through his dying, finally letting go so that he might return to the Father — something all of us mothers will have to do eventually as we release our children to live out their destiny.
I am thankful to Mary, not just now, but 365 days a year. I am thankful for all she stands for in this darkened world. She is a powerful presence, whether or not we recognize her among us. In the end, it is she who crushes the serpent’s head. In the end, she’s not just a gentle woman, but an incredibly strong woman who will fight to the bitter end for justice, nurturing the sick and wounded along the way.
Lucky for me, visible reminders of Mary in a tangible form are all around me. I have many good friends who are either named Mary or Marie or Maria, and my own middle name (and that of my daughter and quite a few friends) is Marie. My paternal grandmother, whom I never had a chance to meet, was named Mary.I don’t think I could escape Mother Mary even if I wanted to!
Thank you, Mary, for all you’ve done to protect me throughout my life, even when I didn’t acknowledge you. I adore you not just in this season, but always. Thank you, most of all, for pointing the way to your beloved son! I aspire to model those actions, always bringing any glory that might come my way back to the proper source, the giver of all love and life.
How has Mary touched your life?
Note: I must point out the wonderful artwork that has been seen here recently by my middle son can be largely attributed to his talented first-grade teacher, Mrs. E., who has instilled a love of art in many of her young students. She is the guiding force behind these wonderful creations. The above piece was a Christmas present he told us we could open early. “Mrs. E. even said so.” I’m glad we did!