I think many of us are feelingÂ vulnerable these days. Â Tragic world events shakeÂ us; political fighting unsettles us; wild winter weather keeps us on edge. Â On a personal note, recent changes in my ownÂ workplace have left me and many of my colleagues feeling disempowered. Â Being vulnerable takes a lot out of you.
But tomorrow is the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and that makes me happy. Â Just like her son, she’s a champion of the vulnerable. Â She singled out the little guy, Juan Diego, and encouraged him. Â She appeared not to the wealthy and powerfulÂ but to a representative of the disenfranchised and vulnerable, reminding him of his own innate dignity.
I love that about her.
Here in California, you see many images of Our Lady of Guadalupe: on truck decals, T-shirts, sides of buildings. Â The fact that she is so ubiquitous just underscores her availability. Â You don’t need a ticket or a background check or a sponsor to approach her. Â She’s always there and ready to listen, any time life is roughing you up a bit and you need a little comfort.
Years ago, walking with my husband after dinner at a restaurant in a nearby city, I remember passing a Catholic church. Â There was a shrine to Our Lady of G. in the parking lot, and in the dusk a young man was standing there. Â He was alone, and silent, just pausing in front of her shrine. Â It was clear that he was praying. Â I was touched by it, thisÂ moment where vulnerable human need sought strong Â maternal love. Â IfÂ my own experiences are anything to go by, I suspect he left that shrine feeling heard.
I think this is why Our Â Lady of Guadalupe is so special. Â I think it’s why her image is fixed in our memories, just as surely it is on Juan Diego’s tilma. Â She keeps on bringing usÂ roses in winter, affirmation in the bleakest times. Â Â And that’s worth celebrating, tomorrow and always.