Holiday Homage to Mary the Mother of Jesus (from an emblematic 21st century human)

The following is excerpted (& slightly edited) from my out-of-print memoir, Hope Deferred.

I’ve never had heroes.  I’m not enamored with celebrities However, there’s Mary, the mother of Jesus.  I look up to her as a role model.  I’m not Catholic, so I don’t formally revere Mary, but I get why they do and I’m on the verge of doing so as well.  But, in the mean time I think the theological character that I know of as Mary, and I have some similarities, resulting in a feeling of kinship with her, triggering the thoughts which follow.

Although Mary was monumentally blessed, she was socially ostracized and an ordinary girl from humble originsHer blessing was for believing that what the Lord had said to her would be accomplished.  I have sometimes felt stupendously foolish for believing an outlandish promise from God.  Mary is clearly identified in Scripture as one who longed for fulfillment of ancient promises.  I wonder if she felt foolish for believing God while she waited.  I think she did at least momentarily.

I recall as a young adult that I felt somehow “charmed” or better put, “blessed” at having never had a broken bone or an illness beyond the usual growing pains of stomachaches, sore throats, colds, etc.  My family was intact, although barely at times.  I never lacked for anything, even though times were obviously hard, periodically.  I stayed emotionally even and balanced throughout my formative years.  I wasn’t intellectually challenged nor did I overly excel.  I felt an inherent blessing over my life, however.  I identify with Frank Schaeffer’s perspective on my childhood (Crazy for God, p. 38), “Given the range of human suffering, I had a golden childhood.”

An outcast, Mary was deprived of a suitable place to give birth to her son, who’s soon to become a celebrity.  I understand the dual status that Mary enjoyed.  That is something I’m not sure many folks comprehend.  One can be both blessed beyond measure and prominent in one sense, while at the same time remain an outside observer of the mainstream, not belonging anywhere.

From my perspective, Mary was a ponderer and a contemplative.  I get her.

Mary remained an ordinary woman who responded in faith to a unique calling, purpose, and portion, although later, she was elevated beyond ordinary humanity by people who followed her – venerating, idealizing, and revering her through pan-biblical tradition, which was out of proportion to her humble character and ordinary beginnings.

IF I WERE MARY – and, aren’t we all glad I wasn’t? {please take a moment to appreciate the happy sarcasm included}:

  1. I would have had a fit with Joseph for not planning ahead enough to reserve a room in the inn.  He should have known what tax time is like in Bethlehem?
  2. After all, here I am ready to have this baby any minute.  What was he thinking?  Joseph knows full well that I’m expecting the Son of God, no less, and he didn’t have the courtesy to prepare a decent place for me to labor and give birth.
  3. My ankles swelled appreciably with each mile I sat atop that beast.  What kind of man am I betrothed to?  I don’t think I want to go through with this thing.  It’s too hard, and I’m unappreciated.
  4. The people in this town, don’t they have any feelings for others?  How selfish can they get?  Every generation of people seems to get more self-centered than the last one.
  5. Can you imagine someone covering the front desk of an inn?  There’s no vacancy, and a man comes in and tells you his wife is in end-stage labor and needs a place to rest and give birth to her baby.  The desk clerk cannot conceive of, or won’t suggest, a single alternative but a stable!  Where does he plan to sleep, out back?  I hope he sleeps comfortably.
  6. How about those guests at the inn?  I think I’ll groan extra loud just for them.  We’ll see who gets any sleep tonight!  I must remember to pray for these people that God would make them more sensitive to the needs of others.
  7. What’s with these shepherd boys.  I just had a baby in a stable, and shepherd boys want to visit.
  8. I’m trying to get the hang of nursing my baby.  As soon as he goes to sleep, some jackass honks, or dumb goat bleats and wakes him up.
  9. I’m tired.  I’m dirty.  I look awful.  I want to go home, and an endless parade of shepherd boys and wise men (there’s an oxymoron for ya) come to visit.
  10. Of course, daddy’s over there, glowing like he had anything to do with it!
  11. Nobody has considered my needs, how I feel, what I might want.
  12. As the mother of a famous child, I have a creeping feeling this pattern might continue my whole life.  I think I’m depressed!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.