An open church, and Mary

madonna-and-child-g3One of my favorite stories from Mary and Me is the story of a woman named Beth.  Though raised Catholic, she stopped practicing her faith in college, and for twenty-five years was very distant from her childhood religion.

Then, in her forties, there was a shift  Her high-powered job was destroying her physical and emotional health, and her heart told her that something in her life had to change.  So she quit her job and got into her car and drove.  For five months, she drove cross-country and back.

Oddly – without having any idea why she was doing it –  she found herself stopping to visit Catholic churches along the way.  In those churches, she would look for a statue of Mary. If there was one, she would fall to her knees in front of it and pray to the Blessed Mother for guidance.

And Mary, being Mary, helped point the way.

A lot of us come to Mary this way.  We come to her when we have needs we can barely understand, let alone put into words.  We come to her when we have absolutely no idea why we’ve chosen her, of all people, to help us unravel our knotty lives.

I think that’s why I like this poem by the French writer Paul Claudel.  It captures this vague searching, and the steady comfort that Mary brings:

Midday.  I see the open church.
It draws me within.
I did not come, Mother of Jesus Christ,
to pray.
I have nothing to offer you.
Nor to ask of you.
I only come, O my Mother,
To gaze at you,
To see you, to cry simply out of joy.
Because I know that I am your child,
And that you are there.

Poem from Spiritual Writings on Mary, selected and annotated by Mary Ford-Grabowsky

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