Years ago, a chance encounter in an antique store ultimately led to a reclaiming of my spiritual roots and a deeper relationship with the Divine. The encounter was with Mary, aka the Blessed Virgin, or rather, a simple unpainted ceramic statue of a young woman that clearly was meant to represent her. It struck me that as society dismisses young women and girls as silly or incapable– here was a statue of a young woman to be revered.
As a child, I took great comfort in the maternal presence of Mary. By the time I left home for college though, I was disillusioned by the Catholic church’s focus on her sexual history and portrayal of her submissiveness as a cause for veneration. After college, my first job was at a domestic violence shelter, and that led to my facilitating groups with teen girls encouraging them to use their voices, uncover their unique strengths and show the world they are more complex than the sexuality that society reduces them to.
Then I walked into that antique store and encountered a statue that looked like the girls I worked with and was meant to be displayed as an emblem of strength and centeredness. Imagine that! I bought the statue. And then over time I bought others like it. I read theologians like Diana Hayes and Cynthia Bourgeault and poets like Denise Levertov who uncovered for me a more complex revelation of Mary.
Now I am inviting others to join me in encountering Mary as well as Mary Magdalene, Hildegard of Bingen and Julian of Norwich in new and unexpected ways. Beginning May 29, I am leading an Encountering Retreat Series that uses art, music and reflection to offer a space where you can encounter these women however they reveal themselves to you.
For more information or to register, click here – Encountering Series