Looking to Mary, who definitely knows
I had been looking for a while at this point.
But then I found her. Or, as I half-jokingly tell my husband, she found me.
Tucked in the back of a thrift store shelf, behind the shiny and (almost)new Christmas decorations.
Old. Definitely old. Chunks of dust collected in the folds of her dress.
Her nose mostly chipped off. “Made in Italy” stamped on the bottom of her stand.
And her arms, her hands, open.
2017 has been a hard year for women.
A triumphant year, yes.
But no real triumph comes without buckets of vulnerability, skinned knees, and after-shocks of, “what the hell just happened?”
And so we get back up and push on and dig even deeper for moments of hope and then the holidays roll around and suddenly, joy is the expectation.
Cheer is the name of the game.
But how does one, as a woman - deeply intuitive and proudly emotional - feel ready to celebrate anything, let alone an event that crowns male religion, when you’re simply trying to get over the whiplash and wounds that are caused, time and time again, at the hands of a relentlessly dominant patriarchy?
I guess what I’m trying to say is that lately, I’ve had trouble connecting with the sacred masculine.
In a world of domination, I crave nurturing.
In a culture of competition, I crave community.
With a year of what felt like heaps of giving, I want, unapologetically, to receive.
And while I’m fully aware of the gentleness that can be and has been extended through the hands of man AND male religions, this season, I want to be mothered. I want to be grandmothered.
I don’t want to transcend or conquer or even get back up. I want to rest my head in the lap of an old crone and be told, by a woman who has lived one hundred lives, that everything will be ok.
And that is why this year, I can’t keep my eyes off of Mary.
The mother. (The slut.)
The chosen woman. (The rejected woman.)
In the presence of angels. (In the presence of endless patronizing. i.e. Mary Did You Know)
Mary knew. She totally knew.
She knew her true story and she knew the story that was served to her in parenthesis by the dominant culture surrounding her. And still, she went on and birthed love into the world. And yes, Mary knew everything about her own son and more.
When I look at Mary, I know joy isn’t the expectation.
When I look at Mary, I know that I can celebrate and grieve.
I can feel light while laying down.
I can secretly question and still be heard.
I can feel wrapped up in paradox and somehow, some way, still feel free.
When I look at Mary I know that I can access joy. But if for a moment, it seems too far to grasp, I look at Mary and I know that I’m still worthy of it.
When Santa is coming to town, the holidays feel like a time to to get lost in bittersweet nostalgia and try to forget. But when Mary comes to town, really freaking pregnant and stuck on the back of a donkey, the holidays feel like a time to remember truthfully, rest unapologetically, and build up strength until it is time to triumph once again.
And that is why this Christmas, I’ll be looking to Mary, who definitely knows.
*** One of my favorite resources about Mary >> Untie the Strong Woman by Clarissa Pinkola Estes