Years ago my mother had a ceramic statue of the Virgin Mary for each of us kids. My aunt painted them and they are rather plain and stand about 3 ft. tall and depict her in her traditional blue and white robes (I often wonder if she got tired of wearing that same outfit since it is the only one you ever see her in) standing on the globe with the serpent beneath her feet. It always had a place in my home until the cap’n and I got married and moved into a new home. I don’t know if it got lost in the barrage of storage boxes that held the mementos of two different lives or if somewhere in my subconscious I thought the statue was too gaudy or embarrassing to be displayed in my new more sophisticated home and life. I had moved up. Okay I admit I didn’t lose her in the storage boxes and I did feel a little guilty about packing her away along with all the other uncomfortable reminders of my old life but it wasn’t until my youngest son had a meltdown that I realized the continuity and comfort that statue represented for myself and my sons. It was during one of the frequent arguments over new rules and ridiculous new rituals when he tearfully blurted, “You don’t even have Mary out.” He was 10 years old and probably wondering about his own fate in my new life. He was a chubby little kid with a burr cut whose life had been turned upside down, was I going to decide he was an embarrassment, too? Hide him away or try to recreate him to fit my new life? Mary came back out of the closet that day and has held a position of prominence in our household ever since. I realized couldn’t bury or hide my past, it was part of me, and the beliefs and traditions that molded me could not be reshaped into a newer more sophisticated model. All shiny new surface with no grit or life hewn character. Beauty without grace. Thank you, God.
That was 16 years ago and Mary now resides across the river on the riverbank where I can see her from my front deck. My 7 yr. old grandson, the son of that precocious 10 yr. old boy, and I plant pansies around her base every summer and yesterday my three year old grandson, the son of the capn’s youngest son, and I carried our watering cans across the bridge to water them. Today after I waved good-bye to the last of my hodge-podge family as they pulled out of the gate I went over to sit with Mary for a while and to thank her for sharing her grace with me and for not giving up on me, no matter how many times I shunned or ignored her. I also thanked her for gifting me with a mother that taught me what a true mother’s love is and who also has never given up on me. Thanks Mom, also for teaching me that nothing says love like home-cooked food and lots of butter and heavy cream.
So today I’m out there doing my best to nurture my little garden of grace and keep the weeds and varmints out.