Something About Mary
Here, evangelicals tremble: has Catholic-convert Comiskey gone over to the dark-side of Marian devotion? Is he in cahoots with the co-redemptress, now worshipping a fourth member of the Trinity? Nah, I just think she is neat.
While considering this most blessed creature, I saw a picture of pure Spirit, Holy Spirit, dropping like dense mist into a clear jar. That jar stood alone, unique in its clarity and form. It simply shone forth the glory of God. She obeyed the Father unlike anyone else and brought forth the Son whose life became hers. At every juncture of His signs and suffering, she said ‘yes.’
Her vessel is a little clearer than mine. Yes, we Christians possess the same Spirit but the quality of glass differs from hers. Mine can magnify light but also diffuses it. And being-sealed-cracks are still, well, cracks.
What helps me to parse Mary is not overwrought images of Marian folklore--scary, doll-like giants--but women I know who say ‘yes’ to the Son in the Spirit of Marian obedience. They are small, usually unseen, and like Mary in humility and granite faith.
Sue left lesbianism for Buddhism and eventually landed in a rural corner of Thailand. There, in a Buddhist monastery, she decided to become a nun. After years of Buddhist monastic life, mainly in England, she said ‘yes’ to Jesus (the first of many assents) and began a path of Christian service and formation. She now represents Living Waters just a few miles from her original monastery.
We just zoomed and she lit up the screen. Her laughter spilled out as she described her joy in this season: she delights in each team member who comes and goes, expecting not what they cannot give. She is hopeful about the local Thai churches that welcome her happy call to holiness. Finally, she begins to see signs of reform in the sexual arena. She does not fret about an uncelebrated Christmas in her pagan culture. She says ‘yes’ to the One. ‘I just worshipped Him five hours in song the other day after preaching…I had to stop cause I was afraid I would lose my voice,’ she chuckled.
My 95-year-old Mom is always a little like Mary to me. She is tiny and dark, sparked by Jesus. He increases as she physically diminishes. Mom took a bad fall on a walk the other day and was rushed to the ER then the ICU. Bad scene for anyone subject to a COVID-crazy hospital in CA. A head gash and badly-bruised side was no match for the chaos of her care--moved from bed to bed, the right hand not knowing what the left just did; it was a nightmare from which she was released three days later.
Chatting with me from home, in pretty good spirits, she said brightly, ‘I had no idea what was coming next so I just talked to Jesus the whole time.’ In a sea of stressed-out faces, His shone bright and she magnified Him. One nurse commented on her exit: ‘That woman is amazing…’
I see Annette’s Marian witness daily. Especially in her love for the Church. Mary embodies the Church--she is the first tabernacle, if you will. Annette oversees all the altar care of her Anglican Church where Jesus has cultivated in her a deep love for the liturgy. She reveres the tabernacle and savors the meaning of communion and all its essential elements.
Her congregation gathers little under COVID. As neither of us are inclined to virtual ‘church,’ her worship is about dressing the altar for video. You could say Annette gets little from her church these days. Untrue. She delights in serving Jesus at the altar. No martyr Annette. She like Mary contents herself in doing what He asks. While praying the other day, I saw a picture of Annette clothed in blue, prepping the altar for communion. I asked Jesus what it meant: He reminded me that blue is Mary’s color and that Annette, in the Holy Spirit of Mary, serves Jesus and members through His table.
Something about Mary. I am not inclined to ponderous pontificating on Mary but delight in these three women (and many others!) who embody something of her essence. In yielded feminine vessels, I behold something of the one exquisite vessel who brought forth the Savior who in turn delivers us all.