I’m pretty into color. Â Walk into my house and you’ll immediately notice the bright yellow kitchen, the blue bedroom, and the hallway that is exactly the colorÂ of key lime pie (that last one was a bit of a mistake, actually — we thought it would be a slightly more subtle green. Â Ah well.)
But I’m warming to the absence of color, too. Â Just check out these lovelies, in all their neutral glory.
“It was a few months after the birth of Matthew that I kept thinking of a well-known quotation from Elizabeth Stone, one I’d heard years before becoming a mom: ‘Making the decision to have a child — it is momentous. Â It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.’ Bingo, I thought as I toted Matthew around in his infant seat. Â That’s exactly how it feels. Â Matthew is outside of me now, in that big scary world, and that is a very vulnerable place for a heart to be.
One day I thought back to those pictures of Mary’s immaculate heart. Â For the first time ever, that image made perfect sense to me. Â Like me, Mary was a mom. Â Like me, she had a beloved child who was out there in the world, where any number of things could assail him. Â Like me, she must have felt as though the dearest, most vital part of her — her very heart — was exposed and vulnerable.
Once I made that connection, I could no longer dismiss those images as creepy or perplexing. Â I realized they were, in fact, a perfect way of showing how visceral this maternal-love thing really is. Â It’s not just something you feel in your head or in your soul. Â It’s in your very organs, in every cell of your body, in the mechanisms that make you tick. Like any other mom, Mary felt that love, in all its exhilarating and terrifying depth.”
— from Random MOMents of Grace: Experiencing God in the Adventures of MotherhoodÂ (Loyola Press, 2013)
This coming Saturday is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Â As Mary feast days go, this one has a special place in my heart.
For one thing, Iâ€™ve a bit ofÂ an affinity for France.Â And, unlike most Marian apparition sites,Â Iâ€™ve actually visited Lourdes.Â In a very indirect and surprising way, that visit changed my life.Â It was in Lourdes that the first little inkling of a â€œnew Maryâ€ entered my mind.Â Thanks to Lourdes, I could start to see her as more than just the glacially perfect woman in the statues.Â I started to see her as a woman who actuallyÂ lived.
The Lourdes story is about Mary putting herself in the middle of the rock and grit, and finding whatâ€™s beautiful there.Â I love how Mary appeared to the little shepherdess, a person no one ever thought was holy or special enough to have such a visitor.Â Maryâ€™s coming revealed that there was more to Bernadette than anyone suspected, including Bernadette herself.Â Maryâ€™s coming also tapped into the latent faith of the people of Lourdes, just as Bernadette tapped into the healing waters of the spring.Â Â In a way, one could say that the Lourdes story is really about venturing below the surface, finding the beautiful depths that existÂ there,Â and harnessing them for good.
And thatâ€™s a lesson that never grows old.
This is a rerun of a post from 2010. Â (I guess I’ve been blogging for a long time, haven’t I?)
Are you a MassiveÂ Mary Fan, the kindÂ who brakes for pictures of the Madonna and Child and who can sing all verses ofÂ “Hail, Holy Queen” by heart?
Are you someone who thinks, “I know everyone always talks about how great Mary is, but I’ve never really had much of a connection with her”?
Wherever you are in your relationship (or lack thereof) with Mary, I’ve got an invitation for you.Â Â I’ll be giving anÂ online workshop this Friday, January 27th at 9 pm Eastern Time. Â The topic is Mary and Modern Women, and I’ll be looking at Mary from five angles that speak to women today. Â It’s put on byÂ Blessed is She, a great website to check out every day of the year.
If you are a member of Blessed is She, it’s totally free. If you aren’t, it’s $15. Â Check out the details on the website.
Hope you can make it! Â (and if you can’t join in live, check the site — you can watch them after the fact, too).
My family subscribesÂ to the theory thatÂ you can never have too many nativity scenes. Â The nesting dolls, the little Peruvian one, the set carved out of wood from the Holy Land: they’re all on displayÂ this time of year.
If you have to have a surplus of something, this isn’t a bad thing to have, is it?