Monday, December 9, 2013

My Favorite Image of Mary

There are so many stunning and beautiful images of Our Lady throughout history. 
All of them speak to me differently and it's so hard to pick a favorite but I think the one that has played the greatest role in my personal journey is this one:


I don't know the real name of it.  I can't find it on Google so the above is just a photo I took of it hanging in our nursery.  It was a gift from a nun I couldn't even see at a convent in the middle of nowhere that doesn't seem to be on the map.  For some reason Our Lady of Motherhood sounds like it rings a bell but that search doesn't show this image.

I spent a summer in Denver back when I was a fun, fresh, energetic young thing in college.  It rocked.  I was there with several other Franciscan students to intern at a parish.  I remember one of our weekend trips and somehow and for some reason we stopped at a convent on the way back.  I think maybe we just saw a sign or something and decided it would be neat to stop.  So we got to the very simple convent to realize that they were cloistered.  We split up and explored a bit and I found myself in the office by the spinning cupboard door thing where you can pass things back and forth to the cloister.  (There's got to be an official name for that.)

Anyway, I was there feeling a bit lonely and lost and a bit melancholic.  I had no idea what God was calling me to in my life.  Then I heard a voice from behind the spinner greeting me.  I don't remember much of our conversation but she passed through the door two of these images.  One for me and one for a friend.  It was so simple and beautiful.

I left shortly after rejoining my friends for the rest of the road trip home.  (Remember how fun college road trips were?  And how usually no one was crying to be nursed or fighting a nap and you could play all sorts of music that you can't play now?)  I kept that image safe in a folder as I moved from place to place knowing that it was special and planning to someday frame it.  That time between the internship and meeting my husband was filled with an incredible peace that God had a plan for me and that I really wanted to do whatever it was that He wanted.  The abandonment was freeing and joyful.  It was filled with a conviction that what HE wanted would be what would fill the longings of my heart.  Whether it was the convent or married life or missionary work, my joy would lie in that.  A sweet, sweet peace that He would bring me to it on His own time but with an inkling that something was laying right around the corner.  And then I met Brian the very next semester.

I love this image.  I love that Mary's chest is bare as Jesus' head lays on it.  And he is bare, too.  Skin to skin with God.  For some reason, that always struck me as so intimate and really impressed on me not just the spiritual intimacy she had with God but the unbelievable physical intimacy that she had!  She nursed GOD at her breast.  She changed His diaper.  She kissed His cheeks and He slept on her chest.  God.  If that's not mind-blowing, I don't know what is.  It was that image that made me long for that intimacy with God and led me to desire that intimacy with a future child of my own.  And He in His mercy has filled that longing four times over.

I certainly don't look or act like Mary most days but the image reminds me of the beauty of motherhood.  It speaks to me of the real intimacy we can have with our own children.  It makes Mary more real, more human to me.  She had a flesh and blood relationship with Jesus.  She was responsible for making decisions about caring for God.  I don't believe the little decisions were too trivial for her and I believe she constantly asked her Father for discernment and wisdom as she made them.  No doubt they were made selflessly and therefore I should do the same with my own children.

I don't think it hit me until later that the Lord was giving me a beautiful foreshadowing of my life that random summer day somewhere in Colorado.  That He was granting me a beautiful sign of His faithfulness that the desires of my heart would be satisfied, but only if I was willing to abandon my agenda, my plan, and my will to His.  It was only by emptying myself of that that He could fill me back up, first with Himself and then with the gifts that would fill my heart to overflowing.


Please head on over to the Image of Mary {Link-Up} to see more!





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1 comment:

  1. Mary, this is a truly beautiful image and reflection. Thank you! I've added my own link, though the image is buried amid all kinds of drivel that I probably should have posted at another time! Thanks for the great linkup idea!

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