To my Mary icon, in preparation for Advent
Mary, you’re always sad, looking at me from the corner of my desk, your son with his arms wrapped around your neck, his fingers spread and grasping your skin, his face pressed up to your cheek.
You are always sad and he is always concerned. Look how he hugs you, one tiny pre-Renaissance-little-man-hand caressing your chest. His eyes lifted toward yours, as if he knows. (Of course he knows, you say.)
You, in your robe of black, marked by two flowers, one over your heart, one over your mind and then this gold ribbon along the edge: it flows from your head covering, down along your chest and weaves itself into the robe of your child. He is dressed in gold. (Of course he is, you say.)
You, with your long pointed nose, pursed lips. That face. That face! So full of everything, eyes dark and searching me out. What do you have to say to me? Mary, I want you to smile sometimes. Your son needs to quit worrying about you and play. And you need to find something to laugh about.
Your eyes on mine, that shared fabric from your robe into his. There are moments when I know why you’re stuck there in that eternal pose: your child’s embrace, your ache that runs from face through body. Of course you have something to say to me. Your hand raised and open beside his body, offering him up. Offering him to me.
So say it now, friend. Say what it means to wait, what it is to be filled up, what it is to resolve to hold heaven in your womb. Tell me about the kind of earnestness that a girl like you holds when she says yes to this: holy pregnancy, loss, the miracles and the longing for normal, the promise of eternity and the fear of eternity.
Tell me what I need to hear today: My boys are not built of God-stuff. They are not holding my face in hopes of my finding peace. They are playing and crying and demanding food. But so was yours, wasn’t he? In every other moment but this one, he was child and you were mother. Except here, your eyes on me, his eyes on you—that cord of gold wrapping around you and weaving your lives into mystery. You want to say something to me about what it means to hold such glory.
So, say it, sweet friend. Look in my eyes and say it.