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author's baby

Provision

And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus….Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her…“For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

(Luke 1:28-40, selections)

author's baby

Luke does not record
what the neighbors say
but the comments are there,

crouching behind the text.
When the messenger says, “Favored One!”
we can almost hear the echoing

“You?”

Luke does not
mention it,
but, guaranteed: Mary knows

it’s there. She knows
when it’s known
that she’s been known,

the greetings will change.
The power of God will not stop
the side-eye. Yet, perhaps

when this babe
opens a tiny mouth
with a vast hunger

and she is able to fill it,
for the time being, a grace
so consuming, a provision

so merciful will bear her
through pain and recoil, this gift
that she agrees to give Read more

Taize Magnificat

There’s Something About Mary

Taize Magnificat

Magnificat Window at Taize Community (Photo by Diana Carroll)

Saint Mary the Brave

by Ann Bonner-Stewart

Since I have been serving at a community called Saint Mary’s for the past six years, I think about Mary a lot. When you factor in that this Saint Mary’s is an all-girls high school, I think about her even more. I am intrigued that most images of Mary show an obedient, calm-looking woman. I highly question and seriously doubt that image. I’ve come to think of Mary as curious, as she questions how this can be, and thoughtful, as she ponders in her heart. I’ve also come to think of her as extremely brave. Though Joseph chose not to put her aside, there is no way that what she went through was easy. In a world where girls and women are often evaluated by how likable we are, I find hope in the strong likelihood that Mary may not have been well-liked, and that later this was completely overshadowed and forgotten.

 

The Real Annunciation

by Katya Ouchakof

One of my ongoing projects is a Bible translation/paraphrase that portrays the mood of a scene, while translating the Greek into everyday English. The Annunciation is one of my favorite stories, because I don’t imagine Mary as the docile character portrayed by most Bible translations. Here’s a more realistic version of this defining scene, in my mind:

The angel said to Mary, “Peace, favored one, the Lord is with you!” And Mary was scared speechless. But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, God will bless you by making you pregnant so you can bear a son, and you’ll name him Jesus.” And Mary was like, “WTF?” So the angel said, “The Holy Spirit will ‘come over’ you and impregnate you, so your son will be called ‘the holy child of God.’ Don’t you know what has happened with your cousin Elizabeth? They said she was barren, but now she is six months pregnant! Absolutely nothing is impossible for God.”

And Mary said, “Whatever, dude. Sounds like I don’t have much choice in the matter. So if you’re actually serious, and I’m going to be the mother of God, I guess that’s cool.” Then the angel departed from her.

 

Saying “Yes”

by Hilary Bogert-Winkler

Mary’s “yes” terrifies me.  It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with unexplained recurrent pregnancy loss that I really had to wrestle with what saying “yes” to God might mean. I pray it every day in the Lord’s prayer: “thy will be done.” But I know a part of me isn’t fully invested in that part of the prayer. I hold back. What if saying “yes” to God means I never get to be a parent? What if it means my community and I have been completely wrong in our discernment that my husband and I are called to be parents? It’s only in this space of incredible longing in the midst of infertility that I’ve come fully to appreciate Mary’s “yes.” Her courage is incredible, and I pray that I may find the courage to pray with my whole self, my soul and body, “let it be with me according to your will.”

 

Mary Statue

Statue at Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona (Photo by Sara Shisler)

Mary’s Blessing for Advent

by Sara Shisler Goff

 

Sit with me awhile,

here by the fire.

Feel the warmth

radiate

and cover you,

and envelope you,

from your toes up to your cheeks.

 

Accept its many blessings.

 

You did not kindle this fire,

but you will kindle it

one day.

 

We will kindle it together

as we wait.

Light shining in the darkness.

 

Flinching fire giving glimpses of

the angels sitting here

with us

as God grows among us

and within us

the Son of Life.

 

Inspired by the Carmina Gadelica and the Blessing of the Kindling.

 

A Truer Mary

by Anna Doherty

I’ve always had a conflicted relationship with Mary. Traditional church doctrine, liturgy, and devotional practices have turned Mary into someone or something unattainable for most women. A virgin and a mother. Meek, mild, and a divine intercessor. A girl and a goddess. I’ve never been able to successfully connect myself or any of my roles as a woman or a clergy person with the person of Mary.

Three years ago, I traveled to the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, which is built on top of the traditional site where the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary. The church is a big, gorgeously decorated, Catholic cathedral. It is filled with paintings, sculpture, and stained glass depicting Mary and the infant Jesus. Though beautiful, most of the artwork and decoration didn’t resonate with me.

Church of the Annunciation

The Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth (Photo by Anna Doherty)

Then I descended the stairs and went underneath the magnificent sanctuary to the site where the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary. As I looked at that tiny, meager room—the remains of a first century Palestine cottage—Mary became more real to me. I realized that she was poor, she was young, and she was also incredibly courageous. She said yes to things she didn’t fully understand. She challenged many of the confines for women of her status. If you look at the words of the Magnificat, then Mary was also a social radical. Someone once said to me that Mary was the first person to truly offer the Eucharist, in that her very body, her very blood, made the first home for Jesus Christ in this world. These are all things that I can connect to as a woman and as a clergy person.

Like the church built atop the shrine of Mary, we pile things onto this Palestine girl, Mary, the mother of our Savior. Some of it may rightfully belong to her; a lot of it doesn’t. We have the power, as women of faith, to sort through all of it and find for ourselves a truer Mary. A Mary we can adore, and emulate, in the spirit of who we are.