Dear Mary by Sara Wright


This piece was written in response to Gina Messina’s recent Feminism and Religion piece “Who is God?”

Dear Mary,

When I responded to a post on feminism and religion this morning I wrote that you were my first goddess. As a child I knew little beyond that you were the “Mother of God,” and I found your presence immensely comforting, even seeking you out in secret, entering your rose garden in a local monastery. I needed you so.

Early in adolescence I learned that your life was one of purity, sacrifice, and loss. Your purity left me bereft. How could a young Victorian girl be “good enough” to serve such a figure? I was fierce and passionate – a thorny red rose – with an empty hole in my heart.

Sadly, I released you and chose your sister the whore, the Black Goddess in disguise… but I didn’t know that then; I only knew that the “black” woman succumbed to her flesh as I did, covered herself in shame…What lies Patriarchy tells…

Mary, I kept your starry blue image on the mantle as I mothered my children. I thought of you as a model of female perfection, an idea so antithetical to who you are and what you embody that today, I am appalled. Eventually, I came to believe that you abandoned me, not realizing that I was the one who abandoned my soul and spirit along with the body of a beautiful girl that I despised.

Sudden death and intolerable grief opened the door between us again; you became the Mater Dolorosa.  I wondered how you survived the death of your son. I don’t know when I realized you had no voice. It disturbed me that you disappeared into obscurity after your son’s death as if mothering was all there was… meanwhile, held captive by the Underworld my life dragged on with me as its victim. More, many more losses, would follow…

As my life deteriorated I retrieved you again and again trying to understand… Eventually I saw that an old white god had all the power and you were acted upon by him just as I seemed to be acted upon and held captive by an unholy darkness. Neither of us had a voice. You were not worthy enough to become a saint, let alone god’s equal – you were consigned to act out the role of intercessor – becoming a bridge between humans and the divine. You were always a servant. You grieved loss without reprieve. In retrospect I see clearly that during the first half of my life I lived out your life as I understood it – always passive, always trying to please, making a sacrifice of myself, unable to use my voice, accepting grief as a way of life. Never good enough. Your patriarchal victimhood was my own. What lies Patriarchy told about you, my Beloved.

The strange part is that even then I noticed that many people, women and men, my own father included, prayed only to you.  I developed a deep respect for your role as intercessor…

At midlife, I discovered you in Italy, as the starry Queen of Heaven, in the form of the doves I had loved as a child, as the scent of a thousand lilies, and although your “dark” sister, Mary Magdelene and I still carried the burden of my deep sexual shame, I loved her too because through her I had been able to keep my connection to you alive and intact as an adolescent. In Assisi you finally appeared to me as the Goddess, loving me just as I was.  This time I refused to choose one sister over the other and the two of you merged into a fully embodied divine figure in which light and darkness were One.

When I left Christianity soon after, I took you with me to begin a new life; this time with Nature as my muse. Of course Mary, you were Nature, my Beloved Earth and each of her creatures and trees … so the thread remained unbroken.

Today a silver Guadalupe, the Indian Goddess of the America’s, hangs on the wall as you enter this house; Guadalupe/Mary/ the Black Goddess finally elevated by the “god boy” to her rightful place: She is Mother of All.  Each of the Nichos in this house holds images of her divine manifest expressions… owl feathers, potsherds, a bear claw for protection, chert, and the antler of a deer. Divinity is expressed through the spark of each individual species; for me this momentary (usually) experience occurs primarily through animals like a bird, dog, or tree, but for others it takes a human form…

Lately Mary, you have become a Crane, and I have been desolate because flocks of you are leaving for the season. I feel bereft and full of fear. Have I lost myself again?

I read that Cranes are vigilant and keep watch at night for predators.

Last night I dreamed two words “Dear Mary,” and this morning after responding to a post written about you, it hit me. I had to write you a letter.

I fear losing you – falling victim to the underworld. I need your protection… Will you intervene on my behalf as Bear, goddess of spring?

I remind myself that you, the Mother of All Creation stand behind each particular bird, animal, tree, person that I experience as an expression of (your) divinity, and that although I mourn the leave – taking of the Cranes there will be others that will come to manifest your Grace, because you, are both the Source and Context of all that is, and also the Bridge between.

I love you, Mary.

 

 

Sara is a naturalist, ethologist ( a person who studies animals in their natural habitats) (former) Jungian Pattern Analyst, and a writer. She publishes her work regularly in a number of different venues and is presently living in Northern New Mexico.

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Categories: Ancestors, Art, Belief, Faith, Female Saints, Feminism, Feminism and Religion, Feminist Theology, Foremothers, General, Mariology, Mary

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

16 replies

  1. … this is beautiful Sara,
    Love
    Glenys

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing your journey with Mary, Sara. Such a healing path you’ve been on for so long. I shared your crane poem with a couple friends who also love cranes.

    Like

  3. How soulful–filled with soul–and touching your letter is. Bright blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a beautiful telling of Mary’s story and your own, and how the two are interwoven with each other and all creation. Thank you!

    Like

  5. Thanks, Sara, for this beautiful post. Not having been raised Roman Catholic, Mary only became important to me when embraced the Goddess as the source of being in my life. Mary, as you demonstrate, is a goddess without sexuality, making Her an impossible model for human women (who aren’t nuns). So for me, she was — as many Goddesses under patriarchy — a diminished deity. I’m glad you have been able to reignite Her power for yourself.

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    • I was not raised a Roman Catholic – in fact I came out of a family that believed in no god – which makes the whole story a bit strange… Mary somehow found me – she might be diminished but she helped me survive.

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  6. Such a beautiful, heartfelt post. I know that many readers will find their lives in your words and be comforted with this amazing, love-illuminated, inclusive and true image of Her. I grew up in a church that was wonderful in many ways, but the only time I remember hearing about Mary was at Christmas. Yet, when I was a child, my grandmother gave both my sister and me statues of Mary when we all went on a trip to Europe and, though we were not Catholic, made a stop at the Vatican. This was my first Goddess image and, in many ways, the foundation of my spirituality now. I hadn’t realized the importance of my grandmother’s gift and the statement it made to my sister and me about finding divinity within ourselves as girls and women until reading your post. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Carolyn… thank you for telling me about your experience with statues of Mary… I was not raised a catholic (or anything) but I did have an Italian grandmother who loved Mary and put a statue of Mary in my room as a night light…amazing how we grasp these precious images of the goddess long before we know….

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  7. Somewhere along the way I lost my connection with Mary, the “Mary” or the “Church fathers” anyway, and haven’t reconnected. Somehow, after reading your post, I met my “Jewish Godmother”, the strong woman holding things together in an occupied territory, and willing to take a chance. One thing is for sure, Jesus didn’t grow up to be the dynamic man he was, without a guide through his early years.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I found this post so movingly written and I could identify with so much of it. During a period of depression after my mother died, I threw my lot in with Ereshkigal (the dark sister of Inanna, Queen of Heaven), and using the book ‘Descent to the Goddess’ journalled my way out of there.

    I love the way your own story has turned out and the part when you said that Mary stands behind all the beloved animals and plants in creation. I’m putting this post in my ‘Important Stuff’ folder so I can read it whenever I like. Thank you, Sara, from Sarah (a psychotherapist who works in a Jungian style)

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  9. Oh, how utterly lovely that you found the post so moving… yes the dark goddess in whatever form is a great comforter in times of grief.

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  10. So very poignant and lovely, Sara. What a gift, to have so many symbols for the female divine, to call upon when needed. ❤️❤️

    Like

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