Saturday, January 14, 2012

Mother of All

The question I had at Christmas last year was who told Joseph what was about to happen in his life? I wondered if Mary had that duty, and imagined an interesting conversation following. I did not remember this story. I asked the question out loud among friends, and friend Susan said an archangel had told Joseph. Perhaps the question found life in this picture, taken at Matthaei Botanical Gardens earlier in December. Several seed pods lay on a brick wall. This one looked like the Madonna to me. This morning when I sought and found the picture, the question was why do I always see Mary in a vulnerable and soft aspect? Her eyes downcast, usually closed, head tilted to the side? This photo looks as though she's clutching her cloak to her breast. Her left foot is tucked behind, her aspect protective. She is exposed, and folds her body in to contain the seeds. My religious upbringing did not include the Virgin Mary, although now I wonder if the Catholic church had a brilliant notion, and if, perhaps I would feel differently now if I'd been raised with a woman in my religious world view. The Madonna is worshiped, but Mary is not depicted as strong, celebratory, steely, powerful. She knew while she carried her child that her life would be devoted to raising a son, teaching him, protecting him, only to give him back to her God. What strength she had; endurance, devotion we may or may not comprehend. She believed, whether she ever questioned, we cannot know. Today I will see Mary in my mind and heart as the all mother. Mother of all mothers, like the Saami depiction of she who gave birth to everything. Powerful, sparkling with love and steady resolve, arm raised overhead circling all beings, all life. Fierce and loving. The mother of all. I can celebrate her life with spirit and love.

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