Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Mother's Heart - sorrow and joy

(Diocesan article, reprinted here)

The path to Marian devotion has been a long and confusing one for me. Finally, I can sincerely say I love Mary with the degree of devotion that is characteristic of the Catholic faithful. This is not something that comes easily or naturally for most Protestants, and that has certainly been the case for this Protestant preacher’s kid. I’ve gone through the motions and prayed that my love for Mary would grow in sincerity and degree. And it has.

A few years ago, my daughter Jennifer and I went on a vacation to Prince Edward Island in Canada. Even though I did not expect to gain lessons about Mary’s maternal instinct while gallivanting across North America, Our Mother had other plans for me.

Brackley Beach should have been fabulous. I imagined stretching out on a blanket. My mother and I bonding under the warmth of the sun. My daughter and her two cousins wading in the cool water of Brackley Bay.

In reality, my mom and I argued while the older two granddaughters scooped up jelly fish and my daughter frantically tried to avoid the strange oceanic creatures. Every few minutes I would glance toward the water to see how the girls were doing.

Suddenly, I had a feeling that something was wrong. I looked in the direction of the water and couldn’t see my daughter. My mom was in the middle of refuting my last point when I just stood up and started walking to the water. I tried to keep my fear in check, telling myself that my daughter was there, probably on the other side of her older cousin or blocked from my view because of the overly crowded beach.

The closer I came to the water’s edge, the more obvious it became that Jennifer wasn’t with her cousins. I began running through the sand to the area where the girls were catching jelly fish and yelled over the strong wind, “where’s Jennifer?” My twelve-year-old niece turned in my direction and shouted back that she didn’t know. I scanned the water, and it seemed to change from beautiful blue to dark, forbidding waters. For the first time since my daughter’s birth, I felt cut off from her – totally separated from her by that terrible water. I frantically scanned the sea as a hellish fear held me in its grip. Then I turned my eyes to the beach and scanned the people. My last hope was that she was among the sunbathing crowd. I began screaming out her name, the terrible truth rushing over me as every second passed. My daughter, my beautiful little girl, was gone.

That’s when a young man called to me and said, “I think that your daughter is right there.” He pointed to a spot up the beach about twenty yards. I looked in the direction he had indicated, and there she was, in her little yellow swimsuit, walking through the crowd, obviously searching for me. I ran toward her and fell to my knees in front of her. When she saw me, she started crying, explaining through her tears how she had become frightened by the jellyfish and tried to find me. I took her in my arms, and we cried together.

I spent the next seven days at my daughter’s side. I’d lost all taste for sightseeing and souvenirs. I had just one thought: I must get this child safely home to her father. In the course of the drive from Prince Edward Island to St. Louis, I realized that God had granted my request to be filled with a profound love for His Mother.

There was a time when I was the girl on the beach. I searched through the crowd for my Mother’s face. I cried as my feet trudged through the hot sand.

Once, I had a Mother who scanned the horizon and feared that I was lost to a wicked sea. I had a Mother who relied on another to bring us together. I had a Mother whose arms ached to hold me once again.

Protestants do not understand this maternal bond. They do not comprehend Mary’s maternal instinct. They do not realize that she is looking for them, scanning the water, waiting for someone to point out every son or daughter that is wandering along the crowded beach. They think that such devotion usurps the place of Jesus Christ in our hearts. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mary is my Mother, leading me to the Father through the Son.

Like that man on the beach, when you see the Mother searching and you see the child wandering, realize that you may be the only one who can bring them together. I’ll let you in on a little secret. The man who gave me back my daughter could have asked me for anything – anything – and if it was mine to give, I would have gladly given it to him. If that describes my imperfect maternal love, how much more does that describe the perfect love of Our Blessed Mother who has every grace at her disposal and wants with all of her heart to lavish upon you the treasures of the kingdom?

Share your faith. Introduce someone to Our Mother’s love.


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