Mother Mary finds her way into many of my collage creations, but it is the story and image of Our Lady of Guadalupe that I am especially drawn to. On December 12, the feast day of our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated.
“Am I not here, I, who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need anything more? Let nothing else worry you, disturb you.”Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego on Mount Tepayac, 1531
On the site of an ancient shrine to the Aztec mother goddess, near Mexico City on Tepeyac Hill, a young Christian Indian named Juan Diego had a vision of a young Indian woman. Speaking in his native tongue, she directed him to tell the bishop to construct a church on the hill. The bishop dismissed the story, but the young maiden appeared yet again to Diego identifying herself as the Mother of God. She instructed him to gather roses that grew at her feet, during the winter no less, and take them to the bishop. When Diego opened his coat, a colorful impression of Our Lady, with dark skin, was imprinted on the fabric.
This story has been told for five hundred years, standing as an “image of divine compassion for a demoralized people. Speaking to Juan Diego in his own language, she presented herself in terms of compassion and solidarity, not power and domination.” (Blessed Among Us, December 12, 2020) The image of Our Lady attracts millions of pilgrims each year at the basilica in Mexico City, one of the world’s most visited sacred sights.
Recently I gathered with some friends for a much-needed retreat, a “pause between labor contractions”—a metaphor that resonated with us. In such troubling times, we came together to be creative, soulful, compassionate listeners—to take, literally and prayerfully, a breath from the labor of a divisive political environment and necessary pandemic adjustments. Jana, Deb, Patsy, Sara, Julie, and I brought open hearts to celebrate a weekend filled with blessings—a full moon, the beauty of the woods, the insightful practice of SoulCollage® and the celebration of All Saints Day.
One of the cards that intuitively came together during our creative time centers on Our Lady and her role in the life of all women, particularly those who are marginalized and suffering. In the upper left corner is an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, somewhat blurred but visibly present, framed by roses that bloomed out of season. Our Lady watches over us—Mother of the Universe, outside time and space. Whether you call her Tonantzin, “Sacred Mother” in Nahuatl, the language of Juan Diego, or Holy Mother, Mother Mary, the Mother of God, or the Virgin Mary, she offers a divine motherly love and protection available to all and who empowers women to give that same love and compassion to others.
The reflection I wrote after making this card that I have titled Our Lady: I am all Women.
I am all women.
I am one who is watched over by our Mother, the divine feminine who knows what it means to be a woman.
I am a woman who has been hurt.
I am a woman who stands in the shadow of women who are hurting now. My heart feels the pain of women who are used, abused, and trafficked.
Sheltered from the storm, we may not realize how other women are suffering. We lose sight that women are used as property throughout the world.
I am a woman living my life, on my own journey of learning and growing both in solitude and with a circle of friends.
I am a woman who must stand in solidarity with all women.
I am a woman who is connected to all women.
The Divine Mother connects us, but we only come to wholeness when we all have healing.
I am a woman who watches and is watched over. I am a woman who is protected and protects.
I am one who is bringing my own divine feminine out of the shadows—it is a gift to the universe to mother, to protect, to watch over another, to live with compassion. The healing and growth of our planet, our cosmos, our souls, is dependent on others. Our relationship with others is our opportunity to practice compassion.
I am one who stands with, but who also goes within.
I am woman who wants to be remembered for the spirit of compassion and a heart for life-long learning.
My dearest son, I am the eternal Virgin Mary, Mother of the true God, Author of Life, Creator of all and Lord of the Heavens and of the Earth.”Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego on Mount Tepayac, 1531
With gratitude for these amazing women, I hold a place in my heart for those in need of mothering love. Pray for us, Our Lady of Guadalupe.
December 13, 2020 at 8:16 am
I just got around to reading your powerful reflection inspired by Our Lady of Guadalupe. Thank you. Again, my heart is drawn to being a part of one of your Soul Collage retreats when it is safe to gather again.
What you reflection spurred in me were many memories. I would love to share with you someday.
One of them was from a pilgrimage I made to the Holy Land about ten years ago. I was given the 4th station to recite as we made our way along the Via Delarosa in Jerusalem. It was early morning, dark, before the shops opened. It was a powerful moment for me.
I contemplated Mary’s role in our salvation history and my connection with her over my lifetime. She was always there informing my faith. Overwhelming gratitude. Even today, my parish is Holy Rosary and the interior is filled with marian symbols placed there intentionally by the artist who helped us with our last sanctuary renovation. I was blessed to have been on the committee and spoke with the artist directly and saw her vision. This is no coincidence.
On the return plane ride, I sat next to my priest friend and told him that what I heard on the Holy Land pilgrimage was that I was to embrace my motherhood as a calling, as a gift to the world. He looked at me quizzically, so I explained about the holiness of bring forth life, nurturing, compassionate listening, encouraging, etc. He said, “Oh, you mean motherhood in the best sense of the word!” It set me back for a moment. What I realized is that I must live and profess the blessedness of mothering (which can be done by men and women, by the way) as my experience of being a natural mother gives me a depth of understanding that a celibate priest just doesn’t have. To honor my own experience and truth.
This conversation has come back to me many times. I said to him that I didn’t understand that there was a worse sense of the word mothering. He then told me a women in his parish who try to mother, really smother him. While well intentioned, these women smother rather than mother. As moms, we know that there is a fine line and look to Mary as a model as she let Jesus go into the world.
Thank you for your blogs, especially this one that has given me much to ponder. Hope Jessica will be able to be home for Christmas. Our kids will be coming in shifts, with one choosing to stay put in Omaha, so we will connect via zoom. The mom box of goodies will be shipped tomorrow.
Happy Adventing…keep up the wonderful reflection, both images and words. You do it well! Ellen
Ellen Lierk firstname.lastname@example.org
…do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others .Phil 2:4
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December 29, 2020 at 3:13 pm
And I just came across your comment!! Sometimes I don’t get notifications. Thank you for sharing your story. Mary, our Mother, is becoming an ever-more important part of my spirituality. I am grateful for that. 🙂
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December 13, 2020 at 2:34 pm
She has a special place in my heart. Thank you for this post.
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December 13, 2020 at 5:56 pm
thank you for the feedback! Advent blessings to you.
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