On my bedside table

Two weeks after my son’s birth, I’m getting back into the rhythms of life with a newborn. Basically, each day is one long feeding session, punctuated by short breaks in which I madly shower, load the washing machine, and attempt to write a few hopefully coherent thoughts on this blog. I have tiny portholes (I can’t even call them windows) of free time in which to accomplish my non-baby-related goals. Clearly, this is not the year in which I will read War and Peace.

But I am still hungry for a good read: something short but meaningful, that I can read and digest in little snippets. Luckily, I found one. The book is Behold Your Mother: Mary Stories and Reflections from a Catholic Convert, by Heidi Hess Saxton.

I’m always fascinated by stories of women who converted to Catholicism, and how they view Mary. Some Christian denominations approach her with silence, others with suspicion, so devotion to Mary can be slow in coming for Catholic converts. Saxton’s book is a beautifully-written love letter to Mary, the mother whom she has come, gradually, to trust and love. In the three essays that open the book, she describes key moments when Mary crept into her life. The last of the three essays — a reflection on Saxton’s life as a foster mother, and her attempts to break down the walls of resistance her young children had initially constructed — is my favorite. It’s a moving meditation on the way that Mary, too, waits patiently for us to realize that we need her.

Following the essays are the forty-eight reflections that make up the heart of the book. Each one is a personal meditation on the life of Mary, often written in her own voice. Saxton writes about key events from the Bible, such as the Visitation and the crucifixion, and includes Scripture passages and short prayers. I love how the author describes quiet moments between Mary and Jesus, imagining the feelings Mary must have had as her boy grew up. They put a human face on Mary, fleshing out the daily interactions between mother and son (and as a mom myself, they speak right to my heart — I dog-eared several pages so I could go back and quickly find my favorites again).

But you don’t have to be a sleep-deprived mom — or a mom at all — to love this book. All you need is an interest in Mary, and the desire to engage with her in a fresh new way.

You can check out Heidi’s blog at http://beholdyourmotherbook.blogspot.com/

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