In my spiritual journey there are themes that will pop up. They make themselves known typically so clear, it is hard to ignore and even harder to convince me that it is not the exact message God has for me in this moment. And one of the strongest right now: Mother Mary. It seems that reminders of her presence, her miracles, her strength, her guidance, and her love are crossing my path all of the time. My love for Mary is so very deeply rooted in my earliest childhood memories and my knowledge of the dedication she has for her children, one of the things I truly love about our Catholic Faith. Over the last two years my rosary has been a part of my day ALL DAY LONG….. never far when I am making business deals… when I have found myself in a court room this year it sits right next to me….and I even started to buy inexpensive ones to stick in my purses. My Ganmommy picked out a different color from her plastic collection each day to match her outfit and I wanted to carry that tradition forward. The realization that Mary is with us and saying the rosary gives us a chance to reach for her hand has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.
But despite my purposeful efforts to be present with Mary, I just have not felt her recently. A season I am seeking so very much and so very often I have felt some incredibly strong other connections: St. Joseph, St. Monica, and most of all, God our Father and His son. Mary just has not been as top of mind… if I am being honest, even though I have efforts to be with her each day. Sort of strange…. and yet recently, I have been reminded of all that she is waiting to do – most importantly, provide comfort to her weary and worried daughter. So what is the wall? This week I think I cracked the code…..
One of the messages that has come up quite often in my study of suffering is the importance of the question we ask in response to suffering: not why… but how. How does God want us to respond? How does He want to teach us? How does he want us to move through the suffering? It is not the human go to response. Or is that just me? My questions want to know why. Why did I deserve this? Why can’t God change it? Why now? WHY? How seems, well honestly – stupid! What does “how” have to do with anything when I serve the King of the Universe and He can change it all? A post for another time… but I will tell you “how” is hard as freaking hell as a response and also, may be the only thing that has actually helped me to start to heal. And here is the deal:
Mary did some amazingly beautiful things for our faith, for her son, for our Father….. all by saying “how” when asked. In fact she is known for not lamenting and being angry, but instead “pondering these things in her heart”. And that is when it struck me….. I am having a harder time connecting because Mary did what I have not wanted to do: asked God How and never Why.
And let’s just all agree if someone was going to ask why…. it can go ahead and be Mary. Why did she have to risk being stoned to death thanks to an unplanned pregnancy outside of marriage? Why did she have to experience the loss of Jesus for three days? Why did Joseph have to leave so she faced the crucifixion as a single mother? Why did her precious son have to be murdered? But her first words to God’s message: “how can this be?” and the “how” never really stopped. She took up her vocation and then always turning back to the Father to assure she was doing it His way and never her own.
My response to my human circumstances… to grief… to pain.. to loss…to suffering… to waiting… to unclear paths – they never really lead to how. I hope they will now… I am starting the practice and praying it will become more of my go to, but its still very much in the goal category. And God, well he knows this about me. In fact, it doesn’t surprise Him one tiny bit that his human daughter is a mess who has to get her butt back to the confessional or wear out the knees of her mom jeans constantly pleading for more strength, patience, love…. after all, I am just human. But so is Mary…. Her life was not easy…. she didn’t know the plan…. she had a lot of “its not supposed to be” and yet she choose how. I feel more unworthy of her understanding…. She did it, why can’t I?
Earlier this week, I was in the middle of setting up a new toy for Shannon that we all hoped would entertain her and Millie for a bit. It was after 6…. it had been a long few days of all of us under the same roof with illness.. family gatherings.. holidays… and lost routines. You know, the perfect storms for young kiddos to be there best selves, and for the adults to be tired… very, very tired. Just as I tried to snap the new baby doll toy into place for the tenth time, knowing it would not work even if matched the diagram instructions, and my eyes darted over to my sweet girl raising her hand with very clear grand plans to have it come down hard on the top of Millie’s head. A sharp and firm “Shannon!” came out so quick the room stopped and everyone looked to see what my normally happy little lady had possibly done to get a scolding…. and just like that the emotion of what was fueling that raised hand, the shock of her mom who tends to talk in sing song, silly voice, and the embarrassment of everyone catching her – that little lip popped out, started to quiver and the tears fell. And just as fast as my correction flew out, so did my “oh baby come here”. She ran right to my open arms, buried her little face and hid away. Although she had been “in trouble” with me….. I was also the exact and only person she wanted in that moment. My goal was to stop her from herself….and I did, but I also made her feel a bit of shame for either the potential choice or the whole scene. Doesn’t really matter, as long as she had that safe place to go… and as the mom, I was glad that she still choose me for her place to rest and shake off the “damage” of a bad choice…. tough moment. And just like in all good Mom internal monologue, I started to list off the reasons she could not be blamed – she is two and exhausted – and it was followed by the many ideas of how I can help her reset (we will have some extra quiet us time tonight, I will tell her it is ok, I just don’t want her to hurt Millie). Momma Mary…. she isn’t judging me, she doesn’t think I am a mess or a bad person…. she is in fact a mom. Ready to scoop me up and give me help.
And with that I realized me? I need Mary to be that mom…. the world needs Mary to be that mom….. and the attempts to distract from that or break the confidence in her love has nothing to do with Mary. In fact it may mean she is closer than ever and the attempt to push her back is coming at all costs. Me? I am not gonna answer… I am gonna rest in my mom’s arms a little bit and trust she can teach me “how” and not wonder why I haven’t done it before. Is there a better teacher than a fellow human…. a fellow mom?
Mary, pray for us!
Thank you so much for reading and remember to make it a great day!