on the Mother of God


As a little girl, riding over the bridge into town toward our evangelical church, the stoplight always caught us right next to a fancy gray building. I stretched my vision every time for the statues in all the stained glass windows, positioned dramatically. I thought people went there to bow down to them like Israel to golden calf.

What was it with Mary? Poor Catholics. Hail Mary.

And then I grew up a little into a young- skinned degenerate. I had given up working anymore to be saved, already swelling with unwanted child and having coffee in a discounted Catholic’s kitchen. She was my roommate’s mom, one who glowed though she had been deeply abused.

As a child, she endured men, while her mind escaped into a full-color realization of a good man who was also God. He would walk with her and hold her hand, as if He were temporarily escorting her outside of her body. When she learned His name, it was nothing for her to believe. She had known Jesus Christ intimately already for as long as she remembered. He had rescued her over and over again.

She tried to explain it – she, Catholic, begging me to believe, and I, protestant, heels digging deeply into disbelief. After the doctor in the clinic with all the pregnant girls lined up, after I emptied myself of hope for what she had with God, I told her I had a miscarriage, and I haven’t seen her since. I don’t even remember her name.

But I think about her a lot, especially in regard to my own dramatic salvation – how I wish I could call her sometimes and ask her to pray, she who cared so deeply for my soul, she who spoke from grace. And strangely, when I think of her, I think of Mary, how she lives though dead, how she carried that baby while young, how she took on abuse, how we all relate.

I think of how Mary’s story becomes our story, God coming into us, planting Himself there, immovable, how we get to be freshly born, and I want to talk to her about it. I want to know her, the great praise poet who endlessly relates, how the hour of her own death must have lasted so long.

There is a new book that interests me to the core, Scot McKnight’s The Real Mary: Why Evangelical Christians Can Embrace the Mother of Jesus, and L.L. Barkat from Seedlings in Stone writes about it today and offers a free copy to a commenter within the next six days.

Is it so wrong to wonder about the Lady, full of grace, about how Heaven dripped down into her, how its ripple roles over us and in us still?

—————

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amberhaines
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23 Comments

L.L. Barkat
Reply October 2, 2009

Beautiful, Amber. You take my breath away.

Danielle
Reply October 2, 2009

Luke 1:38: "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said."

One of my favorite verses in scripture. I long to always have a heart to echo her words, no matter the situation.

Barbara Collins
Reply October 2, 2009

O to know the splendor of the King growing inside of us like the great expectation of a newborn child. God could have brought Jesus any way He pleased, but He chose for Him to be born.........again? My interpretation is that He sent His son whom He already knew and lived with in heaven. This great example of born again, of living in us as in the womb of a mother, and God who dwells with us in the dirtiness of life's diapers is so perfectly designed by God. No it is not wrong to look to her example and learn from her willingness to serve our God, to submit and be faithful, to trust and be ridiculed as a way we should lead our own lives. Remembering she was God's vessel just as we are and our hope is in Him. Our prayers are to Him.
Great story thanks for sharing.
b†
madreminutes.blogspot.com

Anonymous
Reply October 2, 2009

I was raised in Catholic schools, complete with habit-wearing sisters who were as quick to rap your knuckles with wooden rulers as they were to reward you with home-spun salt water taffy. As a young protestant, there was much to navigate and I often found myself on the other end of ceremony that left me confounded. As I grew to understand more of the ritual, I found the waters navigable and forgiving, if not a bit awkward from time-to-time.

Through that process, I came to understand, appreciate, and adopt Mary. I had already adopted Paul, and Peter, and the Johns—I was, after all, protestant. But the lessons of Mary had been elusive. She was, after all, a woman, and weren’t they commanded to be silent somewhere in Corinth?

Mary, the original martyr for Christ, adopted a life of scorn, and through that, I am an adoptee. A mixed-race, half breed that has found my way into a family through the door of grace. And it began when she said yes.

I’m sure there could have been another if she had said no. But she said yes.

And perhaps that’s worthy of thought.

Boy Crazy
Reply October 2, 2009

I love this Amber. It reminded me a little of how Anne Lamott writes about her love of Mary. (If there's anyone out there who is somewhat uncomfortable in their Christianity, go read Anne Lamott. Any of her nonfiction.)

Thanks for the book rec and the link. I will be sure to check them out.

Heather Solos
Reply October 2, 2009

Amber, this is beautiful. I'm a Catholic in a heavily Protestant area, almost all of my friends are and they viewed my reversion (for several years before returning to Catholicism, I attended a Non-denominational church heavily rooted in Pentecostal tradition) as suspect at best. Knowing someone can understand how we can revere and ask for intercessions, but not worship is comforting.

mandie
Reply October 2, 2009

This is so intriguing. I was born into a Catholic family, who turned pentacostal when I was 6, and so I have always 'known' that Catholics revered Mary, but never understood it (and never really looked into it for myself). Your words have put a desire in me to read and search more. Thank you. :)

Kelly
Reply October 2, 2009

We who need His grace cannot stop speaking of it, for we know what judgment is, and we know we have been freed...

Have missed your incredible writing while I've been lost in post-processing. Looking forward to catching up...

laura
Reply October 2, 2009

Yes! We who believe are all Mary--carry Him inside. Sometimes without such grace, but always trying.

So moving.

suzy
Reply October 2, 2009

Breathtaking, beautiful, your words bless me here.
Thank you :)

Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus
Reply October 2, 2009

I've come back a second time to read this.

Beautiful words; beautiful you.
Beautiful Kingdom of God in you....

John
Reply October 2, 2009

It's never wrong to wonder, Amber...I betcha Mary did a ton of it...heck, may've been one of the reasons He said, "she'll do just fine."

Grace,

Sara Sophia
Reply October 2, 2009

The story of Mary, of Eve, has always been one that fascinates me.
I can never escape the connection between all of the women God has chosen and knit together with sparkly heart cords (thank you for the visual Arianne!).

We are all his daughters, his mothers, his sisters and his bride.
Like the praise song which trills out,
"You're my Friend and You are my Brother
--even though You are my King."

The ways in which we experience love are so diverse--and they were all given by a Heavenly Father--Like Mary..I am the enduring mother. Like Eve, the disobedient daughter.
Like Mary Magdelene, the adoring sister.
Like the virgin who kept her lamp flickering when it grew dark.
Waiting for the Marriage Supper.

We feel all these things--as we should.
Yahweh is our Everything.
One day I think we will sit in an open field
with every woman that ever was
who loved This King.
We'll sit and have one very long conversation.

--Sara Sophia

Esther
Reply October 3, 2009

I've always been in awe of Mary.... from a distance, wondering so much about her. She was a woman, a mother, stretched and made stronger; maybe we know more about her than is written.

Adventures In Babywearing
Reply October 3, 2009

A perfect question. Thank you for taking my mind there. I was kinda brought up that Mary was for the Catholics, too.

Steph

To Think Is To Create
Reply October 4, 2009

This book isn't on kindle unfortunately (just checked! I read books swiftly on the iphone kindle app, and they're less expensive!), so I'm hoping to pick it up soon.

This has so resonated with me...even as I sit here unable to sleep tonight, I was reminded that I wanted to come back here and get this title and find this book. Alas, not tonight. But soon.

deb
Reply October 4, 2009

the mystery, always.

Deborah
Reply October 4, 2009

"...when I think of her, I think of Mary, how she lives though dead."

The first time I ever asked Mary to pray for me(as an Evangelical), I quickly asked God to forgive me thinking I had done something wrong. Now as a Catholic, I am so comforted by the belief that those in heaven are very much alive, able and willing to pray for me when I ask, especially Mary.

Catholics believe that when Jesus said to John from the cross "Behold your mother," John represented all of humanity at that moment. Jesus gave Mary to ALL of us as our mother.

Mary is a beautiful example of a wife and mother. She understands what we as women, wives, and moms go through. I once heard it said and it has helped me on occasions when I still feel a little awkward asking Mary for prayer, that the words of the angel in the Gospel, "Do not fear Mary" can be applied to myself with the emphasis on the "Do not fear."

Cindy
Reply October 4, 2009

I don't think its wrong. At all. I think we should consider everything. I think we should dwell and swell on things, many things.

Sugar Jones
Reply October 5, 2009

My mother went to a Catholic high school. Each year, she moved forward to the next grade with the same group of girls... and the same statue of Mary. Upon graduation, the statue was given to one of the girls. I can only assume it was awarded through some sort of fundraising raffle. At any rate, it was my mother's rare luck to win the statue that stood about two feet tall.

That statue was in my room all my school years.

I grew up with the image of Mary caring for us... nurturing us... arms open to embrace us. It stood in stark contrast to the yelling and anger that was the horrible melody of our home. When I went to Catholic school, I learned to sing Mary Songs. During the nights that my peace was stolen by my parents yelling, I would plug my fingers into my ears and sing a bit of a mantra version of Hail Mary while keeping my eyes on the figure of the Blessed Virgin.

I don't know why it did, but it just made things better.

KimA
Reply October 5, 2009

In a time when so many young woman seem to struggle with what it really means to be a woman, the truth about Mary is such a necessity. Her gentle servitude and resounding YES! to God's will needs to be heard and reflected by all women, Catholic or not!

::Sylvia::
Reply October 5, 2009

I think this is wonderful! I am a member of the Greek Orthodox Church and Mary is held in a very high position (though no one is held as high as the Lord) in our Faith considering her role as the Mother of God.

In August, we celebrated her Dormition. It is one of many periods of fasting and prayer for the Orthodox and I posted a different story a day on the Life of the Mother of God. If you want to read some of them, you can do so here: http://www.orthodoxmom.com/search/label/The%20Theotokos

thegypsymama
Reply October 5, 2009

Thank you for this profound glimpse into a mystery I have often thought about when pregnant for the first time. What was it like for a girl to know she was carrying a God in her womb. How did she handle a long distance donkey ride in her third trimester. How did she explain to Joseph what was happening in her womb. How did he bond with the child that he knew was not his own. The mystery and the beauty of the story are remarkable. I don't think we protestants spend nearly enough time wondering about it.

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