I look up images of Mary quite a lot, and I’ve realized something: very few of them show her smiling.
A lot of them show her doing the “half-smile,” kind of like the Mona Lisa:
But when it comes to a full-on grin, this is one of the few I’ve found.
Maybe classical artists figured that the Mother of God must have had pretty weighty issues on her mind, and had no time for frivolity. Â (They surely felt the same about Jesus, too; there aren’t a lot of smiley Christs out there.) Â I’m sure Mary did have lots of complex things to ponder in her heart, but I suspect that was only half the story. Â I have a hunch that — like many moms — she made it through the worries and fear by savoring the random little moments of spontaneous happiness.
It is a real art, finding Â joy even in the midst of anxiety, or Â uncertainty, or the drudgery of daily life (and yes, having young kids puts you squarely in the path of all three of these). Â And when I think of people I know whom I consider to be holy, they are without exception the ones who are able to register and savor little moments of joy even when everything else in their lives seems dark.
I really like this quotation, from Fra Giovanni:
The Gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet within our reach is joy. Â Take Joy!
So as I start the work week, I’ve got my radar tuned for joy. I’m going to look for it even in the places I’d never think to look otherwise.
And maybe, just maybe, it’ll be habit-forming.
Paintings: Madonna and Child, Pompeo Batoni; Madonna and Child with Flowers, Leonardo da Vinci.
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