Mother Mary and the Solstice Birthday

Gift to Mom

Gift to Mom

I took this photo three years ago, the last time I was in for my mother’s Solstice birthday.  I’d given her a copy of my friend Mirabai Starr’s and Fr. William Hart McNichols’ book, Mother of God: Similar to Fire, which Mom keeps close at hand to this day, on her coffee table. Today that table is chock-full of Christmas and birthday cards, bouquets and ornaments, with Mother of God in the midst of it all.

After I’d returned to New Mexico in 2010, Mom told me she’d pick the book up at night and often read one poem before sleep, as a part of her nightly prayers.  She said she’d never read poems quite like them, that she knew Mary truly understood her pain, through these masterful poems.  My mother, herself named Mary, had always held Our Lady close to her heart, and had taught me that I could pray to her, “Oh clement, oh loving, oh sweet Virgin Mary…” was one of the refrains I’d learned as a child.  ”I fly onto Thee, O Virgin of Virgins…”  I loved that one, imagining myself ‘flying onto’ Mary.

My mother taught me to come to Mary as mother.  Simple, real, accessible. She would intercede for you.  Just like in the home growing up, where so many children can ask Mom first, trustingly, pleadingly, open and needy.  She would embrace you and do all she could to make it happen…

The Divine Feminine is so simple. So many of us know it, from mother-love. And even if one’s own mother was not available in one way or another, other women will be mother to many, like Mary of Nazareth can be to us all. We all meet these women everyday in our lives. She is the kind woman at the grocery store, the bus stop, one of the carolers in the resident choir that sang tonight here to the elderly folks in my mother’s retirement home on a dreary, wet, Chicago December night. She is your special friend who opens her heart and her home and bears witness to your journey. She is that nurturing friend who loves you enough that you can grow up, stand straight in the world, no matter how old you are, or how far away from home.

On this darkest day of the year – the Winter Solstice – the turning point where light and darkness intersect and our hemisphere begins its journey back to the light, my mother was born.  I am grateful to her, and to her mother, Grandma Annie… for revealing so much about the gentle healing power of tenderness and love, in my life. (And St. Anne, of course, was the mother of Mary of Nazareth… No coincidence there!)

Grandma Annie Crawford & I, circa 1988, in Connolly, Clare, Ireland

Grandma Annie Crawford & I, circa 1988, in Connolly, Clare, Ireland



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