"I heard a voice from heaven saying, 'Son, let this woman be a bride to you in the restoration of my people. Let her be a mother for these people, regenerating souls through the salvation of spirit and water.'" (Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

"A Sword Shall Pierce Your Own Heart...

...and this precious bundle of joy will frequently be a figurative and literal pain in your behind!"

Precisely nineteen years ago tonight I was in the last agonizing hours of a three day labor culminating in the miraculous and heroic VBAC of my own beloved son: two and a half hours of pushing which resulted [TMI warning] in the maternal stigmata of a brutal hemorrhoid which I mostly manage really well (can I just say that the inventor of flushable wipes is worthy of, at least, beatification?). It's a lasting physical reminder of my vocation--we all have at least one, right ladies?--and much less lyrical than the microchimerism which, as Molly eloquently shares, makes those of us with babies who died before or after birth living reliquaries. Anyway, it unexpectedly flared beginning last night, making today's otherwise enjoyable professional and roadschool prep tasks quite the ordeal. This has in turn led to a very different Candlemas post than the glowing one I began yesterday after a sunrise rosary walk along the lakeshore finishing up the joyful mysteries I began on Monday!

Yesterday afternoon Nick and I had a long and lovely outing following our tradition in the last year's rare visits: conversation so intense and delightful that I got slightly lost driving-totally uncharacteristic for this daughter of a land surveyor. We registered to vote, though we need to go to a different office to get his absentee ballot set up. He bought allergy medicine to deal with the cat in his new temporary home and I found ankle weights, dumbbells, and running tights to continue my year of intense physical transformation. He asked if we could have a mother-son lunch date tomorrow before he flies to a faraway state Friday morning, hopefully followed by a faraway country a few months after that. And our final brainstorm was to precede it by asking Master B. if he can join my kickboxing class and have a personal experience of the sport, as well as all the stories he's been hearing. It will be the perfect wrap-up to this visit completing both our relational healing and his full launch to adulthood--if and only if I can get this butt pain under control.

It took me a long time to fight through the blue plaster Mary and connect with the fiercely compassionate prophet who had plenty of struggles with her own lippy teenager and baffling young adult. I am always grieved when other mothers accept the Docetic legends--never taught in any authoritative church document--denying her "like us in all things but sin" sharing in the redemptive and messy physical suffering that accompanies pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. Nausea, fatigue, blood, sweat, tears (in both senses and pronunciations!), engorgement, sore nipples, and yes, perhaps even piles. In the years of truly hellish struggles with my son's diagnosis and temperament I found deep consolation as I begged for her powerful intercession and contemplated the Gospel stories of conflict between them that are ignored or explained away in most preaching and devotional writing.

In Matthew and Mark she and Jesus' brothers apparently fear for his sanity as his unconventional and dangerous ministry begins, and their attempts to silence him for his own protection lead to the heart-piercing, if temporary, rejection of his birth family in favor of his disciples. And in Luke she witnesses a a vicious verbal slap--even if if it is followed by obedience--at the courageous man who saved both of their lives, all to cover up adolescent embarrassment at being gently reproved in front of the Temple teachers. These very real interactions, so like our own, for me add to her holiness and beauty rather than detracting from them, and give special power to the reconciliation gained by the end of the story in John's Gospel when she joins Mary Magdalene, other women disciples, and John the Beloved in faithful and risky presence at the cross.

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