I did not grow up in the Catholic church. In fact, when I was young I thought there to be something dreadfully wrong with them. Confessing to a priest? Believing there need be an intermediary to God? And the worst, worshipping a woman?
Mother of God. Misunderstood. Misinterpreted. Even maligned.
But today I know better, or at least am trying. And today, this particular day, worshipping a woman feels like invocation and benediction; a missing piece of my faith that once was lost but now is found; a grace that enables me to imagine God in redemptive, nurturing, and relevant ways. And today, this particular day, in necessary and even critical ways.
Mary serves as icon of inspiration and hope in a world that feels out-of-control, crazy, and mad.
Oh, how we need her.
Willing. Brave. Listening to angels. Bearing misunderstanding. Birthing the holy. Protecting the vulnerable. Captured perfectly, beautifully, powerfully by Clarissa Pinkola Estes:
Here, please allow me to pray strength into your hands and heart – and inspiration and daring – and fire – to lift the Great Woman away from whichever Lilliputians have tied her down into more manageable form…
The moment we ask for her,
see her, converse with her, love her -
she gracefully rises up
against all her ropes,
and they burst open whilst
the pins fly in all directions.
With much love, some levity, and certainly deep longing,
together let us all sit up too,
let us bust through all the ropes
and make all the pins fly too –
untying ourselves as we also untie the Strong Woman.
How desperately we need to be untied. For our world desperately needs us. Strong Women (and men) who can and will move freely, powerfully, and in unbound ways. The evidence continues to grow:
I began this post thinking about mothers who are grieving lost children in the Sandy Hook tragedy. And while writing, I heard of at least two fireman shot, dead, when responding to a house fire in upstate New York. It’s Christmas Eve.
We need Mary.
We need Mary’s Son.
We need a miracle.
In a world that increasingly makes less sense, we need inspiration, solace, and hope. Mary offers this. But more, Mary calls to us.
She prays that we be the miracles, the mothers, those whose hearts break and arms hold and tears fall; those whose ability to persevere and protect does not end…ever.
And we pray:
Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
May we be Mary’s daughters (and sons). Willing. Brave. Listening to angels. Bearing misunderstanding. Birthing the holy. Protecting the vulnerable.
My Christmas Prayer – today and everyday.