It’s pretty easy to find beautiful images of Mary. This is one of my favorites:
It’s called Song of the Angels, by William-Adolphe Bouguereau. Why do I love it?
For one thing, it has a gentle feel. The colors, the pastoral background, the soft edges are calm and soothing. The subject itself is sweet. I mean, angels playing a lullabye to a baby; what’s not to love?
As nice as the serenade is, though, somehow the picture speaks most powerfully when I block out the angels and just focus on Mary and Jesus. They are the picture of peace, sitting there together, mother and son. He sleeps in her lap and she looks equally relaxed. It’s like a little moment in which the world outside them is held at bay. Peace reigns.
I spend a lot of time these days in that pose, sitting with my newborn in my lap or on my shoulder. Sometimes he snoozes, and I watch him as he sleeps. There’s such a heartbreaking innocence to the sleeping face of a baby. My little one doesn’t carry stress, or fear about money or health or the future. I wish I could say the same about me.
But there are times when I hold him and — somehow — the peacefulness of the moment overcomes the worries that normally shadow me. All the outside stressors are pushed away and I’m fully present in the reality of that little boy who rests on me and trusts that I’ll always be there. I drink in his smell and memorize every little detail of that face that is changing, imperceptibly, day by day. I know that in years to come, I’ll want to have this moment fixed in the photo album of my mind. I’ll want to revisit it and remember a fall afternoon when nothing else mattered but this moment of communion between my tiny boy and me.