Say there is a Lady

 

Let’s say there is a Lady full of Grace.

Let’s say there is a Lady who is perfect– but not as the world sees. Not a perfect June Cleaver who serves hot breakfast in a flawless manicure and perm. Not some perfectly accommodating wife who is a maid in the kitchen and a whore in the bedroom. Not a perfectly organized, no-nonsense coupon-clipping mom of ten moppets who always gets them dressed in matching suits, pinafores and chapel veils for the noonday Mass.  Not a perfectly healthy yoga instructor with an easy weight loss plan. Not a perfect 36-24-36 with milky skin and blond ringlets. Not a perfect credit score. Not a perfect date. Not a perfect night in.  Not a perfect ten. None of those things, but a Lady who is perfect in the eyes of God.

As the world sees, she counted as worse than nothing. She was a poor brown girl from a backward region of a brutal empire that hated poor brown girls from the backward regions. She was the only daughter of her parents, in a time and place where large families blessed with many sons were considered the ultimate sign of Divine favor. She got pregnant under mysterious circumstances that could have gotten her stoned to death– but her betrothed believed her, and took her into his home. She gave birth homeless, in squalor, surrounded by animals. She had nothing to bring to thank the Lord but the poor woman’s gift of two turtledoves. She ran for the border to escape a genocide and hid out among the pagans in Egypt for three years. She never had any more children. She never amounted to much, in the eyes of the world. Her only Son was lynched, and she watched it happen, helpless. That’s just about all we know for sure, by faith– that, and that she was perfect.

Glorious things are said about this Lady– and not so glorious things, truth be told. Her name and icon get appropriated for so many odd ventures– some godly, some silly, some downright evil.  You see her carried on the shoulders of all kinds of people for all kinds of causes they’re certain she’d approve. You see pictures of her, suspiciously Caucasian and wrapped in the American flag. You hear her name invoked in defense of capitalism, monarchism, fascism, democracy, homeschooling, a certain length of skirt and modest height of turtleneck. You get asked “what would she do” in ludicrous situations where there is no certain answer.  You get accused of not being like her if you are a woman who is too loud, or too emotional– this even though she’s so often portrayed trampling on demons and crying over her murdered Son.

The other day, somebody told me that this perfect Lady was going to commit genocide– this glorious Lady was going to kill off all the communists and Muslims, more than a billion people at one fell swoop, to bring about a good Pope, a good king, and an earthly Era of Peace. As if any so-called peace bought at the price of that many murders would be worth having. As if we wouldn’t be a thousand times better off embroiled in bitter suffering and conflict for our whole lives, than if that perfect Lady should prove herself a tyrant. I’d heard such things before. I grew up in that nonsense. I was terrified of that Lady.

Let’s say I’ve gotten to know her better.

Let’s say a Lady who is perfect in the eyes of God would mirror God in everything, perfectly. That if she was filled with the grace of God she would be Mother of Mercy, Seat of Wisdom, Comforter of the Afflicted, relentless in the pursuit of justice for her children wandering in this valley of shadow. She would be a refuge for refugees, a champion for the poor. She would be the zealous protector of brown girls from backward regions of brutal empires, and of everyone else who is oppressed and in danger, because these especially bear her image to the world. And those of us who claim to champion her causes ought to do our best to be like her.

Let’s say that in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent to a virgin in a town called Nazareth, the virgin’s name was Miriam, and Miriam is my mother.

She is the one I celebrate on this most awkward and lonely of days. And that’s why I’m not miserable on Mother’s Day.

Let’s say there is a Lady full of Grace.

 

 

 

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