Today is one of many Feasts where we honor Mary.
As I engaged in the Spiritual Exercises this past summer, I was invited to contemplate some of the passages where Mary was a focal point.
I had a little trouble, honestly.
Mary seemed too quiet, too perfect… and I was in a space where I was craving to know her humanity more. In my heart, I felt like there were stories between the stories that I would have loved to hear. Stories that reminded me that Mary understands ALL of motherhood.
Here’s what I wrote this summer as I contemplated Mary’s story:
I often get lost in the “perfect” image of Mary. I wonder if this image I have of her does a disservice to her and all she was. I mean God chose a human being to hold and birth God’s son. A human being to hold and birth a human being (who yes was also Divine).
Maybe the tale of Mary and Joseph “losing” Jesus in the temple shows this humanity a bit… but I wish more passages did. I’d like to see the passage where Jesus came home sad because he just couldn’t relate to other kids his age. I’d like to see the passage where Jesus isn’t talking at two and Mary is wondering what she did wrong. I’d like to see the passage where Jesus breaks something Joseph has been working on for weeks and he has to bite his tongue not to yell – or maybe he yells… and then feels terrible about it. I’d like to see the passage where the house is messy, the dinner is not done on time, Jesus can’t sleep because his ear infection has him screaming. I’d like to see the passage where Jesus rolls off the elevated table and Mary is sure she’s killed the son of God and runs him straight to the emergency room (ok town doctor or whatever).
I’d like to see the passage where Jesus won’t write a sentence down because it is a lie (but really it’s just supposed to be imaginative) but it’s part of the homework he’s been assigned and Mary has to make him anyway.
I’d like to see the passage where people give Mary unsolicited advice on how to raise Jesus better so he’s more like the other kids.
Then maybe I’d feel even more of a kinship to the Mother of God… maybe I’d be able to know her even better…
Or maybe I can give myself permission to let my imagination go there anyway because – probably all that stuff happened (or 1st century equivalents of it) but people left it out because it wasn’t critical to them at the time. Or because Jesus’ later years were the most important—— but I posit his early years meant a lot as well. I crave knowing them.
Today as we celebrate Mary for all she was… let us not be afraid to see the hidden parts of her humanity as well. It’s such a beautiful part of who she was and who she can be to us.