The words of the mantra suddenly materialized in my mind and spilled out of my mouth as I drove home, exhausted from the days chores. Simultaneously a sharp pain lodged itself in my lower back. Astonished by hearing myself repeat the familiar words as the pain intensified it took a moment for me to connect the two. I was experiencing family anguish and it was coming through my words and through my body. Although I am not a catholic I repeated Mary’s prayer opening my heart to the person that needed deep comfort. I could sense a door opening…a threshold being crossed.
I had already dreamed that my aunt had died the night she did. “The Queen is Dead”, the dream said. My aunt Terry, a very simple, religious, and loving woman lived her life surrounded by a light that was palpable. Calling her Queen was appropriate. I sent Billy, my cousin, six pure white roses attaching the words “Roses in the Snow” to the card after the phrase appeared out of thin air while I was sitting on the porch at twilight.
When I first fell in love with Mary it was in a grotto. Although I knew she was a statue she seemed like a living Presence in that lovely walled garden so fragrant with roses. My five year old self was still whole …
Mary was my first goddess.
In my house religion had no place, so I kept Mary and the secret garden to myself although Mary drew me back many times to be with her. A few kind nuns (I called them mums) told me stories about how Mary was the Mother of God – but god had no meaning. Mary, on the other hand became a kind of Muse. Is that where I learned the words “Hail Mary full of Grace, blessed are thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb…”? The Jesus part didn’t become part of the prayer for me until much later, and that’s another story.
When I was older ‘Hail Mary’ comforted me even after I learned more about Mary – that she wasn’t divine but bore a god – god remained scary but Mary grew into one of the Mothers of all Living Beings and so she remains today.
The phone was ringing as I entered the house. Billy was calling… I listened to heartbreak and a sea of tears that needed shedding, how his mother loved him as a child, held him in her arms comforting him… On and on. My aunt Terry was one of those remarkable women who seemed almost unearthly in temperament. I don’t mean that she wasn’t grounded. But there was that shining light around her that drew me to her as a child. I loved her, though I rarely saw my aunt because of family strife. Her life revolved around being a good mother to her sons and a good wife to my uncle. After my uncle Alex’s untimely death, my cousin Billy cared for his mother until dementia finally took her from him…Even then he continued to visit her regularly still caring for her in every possible way that mattered. Now, many years after losing her in mind, he was finally losing her for the second time in body. She died September 8th. No wonder he was inconsolable (it doesn’t escape me that my father Billy’s uncle went through the very same thing with his mother – family patterns do repeat).
Billy and I are kindred souls, although apparently having very different religious perspectives. He is Catholic and I am an animist who finds the divine in Nature. What’s interesting about this difference is that Billy can’t reach across the chasm to experience my perspective as legitimate, yet mine encompasses his with ease. It took me awhile to understand that part of the reason for this split is that Billy does not live in his body – his religion tells him that his spiritual self is all that matters and he is presently struggling with the question around having a soul that survives death while being subsumed in mother grief.
Our bodies embody our emotions/feelings, senses, and intuition and without access to these parts of ourselves we live in a kind of desert that doesn’t allow other ways of knowing to seep in.
And this brings me back to what happened to me in the car. Something important was coming through both my mind and body; someone I loved needed my help. Thankfully, I have finally learned how to live in my body and to trust my senses to lead me, so I question nothing. Most of the time. When mind and body come together with a message like the one I received I don’t have to understand the particulars. All I have to do is follow directions, and I did. By the time Billy and I got off the phone my backache was gone.
I will not be attending my aunt’s funeral today because I live too far away and have no place to leave my dogs. But as I told my cousin I will be with him. What I plan to do at 1:30PM is to be in a forest I love offering “Hail Mary” to my aunt and praying for Billy’s comfort as he navigates the difficult decent into grieving instead of running away from it, (something we have discussed at length and he understands and can feel the importance of doing), thankfully. I believe the forces of Nature will see to it that my heartfelt prayers and intentions will reach their destination…
“Hail Mary full of Grace, blessed are thou amongst women…”
Blessed is my Aunt Terry.
The Mother Goddess is always listening.
BIO: Sara Wright 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 Maine.