I’ve been Marian in devotion my entire life and didn’t know it.
From the time I was old enough to drag the children’s illustrated Bible off the book shelf and flip through the Christmas story illustrations, I was fascinated with the fact that Mary was a GIRL. She was a REAL, LIVE, HUMAN GIRL. The “Humble Mary” song from the Donut Man Christmas show was one of my all-time favorite Donut Man anthems – and that’s saying a whole lot. I used to pretend to be Mary, I would put this little black dance skirt over my head, stare into this beat-up white-wash mirror that I had leaning against a wall and pretend to be a nun named Maria. In my little pre-school/early-elementary Fundamentalist Protestant mind, Mary was The Bomb. Dot. Com.
I never grew out of that admiration for her, and Marian devotion wasn’t something that was difficult for me to grasp once I started the conversion process. But a few months ago I hit a brick wall. I had a rare day off work, so I was studying the Marian Dogmas, playing The Postal Service on my computer, and enjoying the day when leftover ugly Protestant rebellion raised its obnoxious voice.
I was angry.
Why do I have to believe this?
Never mind the fact that I had believed almost every bit of it for my entire life.
Because the Church DARED to tell me I HAD to believe it, that this woman was somehow more important than any other woman that had been born (“God is no respecter of persons!” the good Fundamentalist screeched in my mind), I was digging in my heels and refusing to budge.
I threw the book down, squeezed my eyes shut, and began to pray.
“Okay, Mary. . .I’m trying to accept this. I really am. I don’t want to pick and choose the things that appeal to me, and leave out the things that just irk me. So. . .you’re going to have to do something. Or tell God to do something. Or however this damned thing works. Because I don’t want to feel this way, and I want to believe.”
Ugly, irreverent, flawed, broken, and raw. I have a long way to go.
Right in the middle of Clark Gable my computer froze. After the whir of my grumpy old Acer died down a beautifully simple and sweet piano intro began to play.
“Mary, sweet Mary, your heart overflows, deep in the night, child, a babe is born.
Sacred and holy, blameless, and pure. . .
Mary, sweet Mary, tonight your child is born.
Mary, sweet Mary, so strong, yet so frail. . .”
All I could do was crawl towards my laptop and stare at the screen. The song’s name was Mary Sweet Mary, by Selah, with guest vocals by Plumb – none of whom are Catholic, I might add. How it got on my computer, I do not know. And why it would begin playing when the Postal Service is neither Christian or Christmas, I also do not know. But the entire song played and while I was already an emotional wreck from a lot of things going on in my life at that point, I definitely lost it then. All I could say was, “Okay, God. I get it. I mean, I don’t get it. But I believe it.”
Did every theological brick wall come tumbling down? No. Do I understand everything about Marian dogma? No. But it doesn’t matter. Because I believe. And that’s enough.