The Mother of God is an active, living presence for me — and has been for most of my life. This closeness makes it more difficult to put words with this painting — my favorite in the heart murmurations collection.
So I will keep it simple by taking myself back to the time I held the brush and this painting took form.
We are studying Human Incarnation in the Living School and Christmas is less than a week away. I am present more fully in this season than ever before, and Mary’s role in carrying this gift to humanity overwhelms me.
I recall the words from a poem about Mary’s mother, St. Anne — “who must have taught her daughter something of boldness, of clarity, of passages, of the power of choosing —
Of not fearing angels —
Or their wild propositions.”
I feel the lowliness of her surroundings, the misgivings from others she surely felt — and I begin to swell with a courage I imagine contained in that “slender vase” Denise Levertov writes of in her poem “The Annunciation.”
I paint her as a flower vessel, the Christ child safely hidden within, light of God as protection — and the royal blue that is Mary’s robe in this chaotic world.
Around this time, I also listen to Jim Finley’s heart-melting interpretation of “no room in the inn.” Jim offers that it may seem like our human foibles keep God from coming, but the truth is —
“There’s never any room in the inn — and —
“God comes anyway!”
This poverty of our hearts, Jim says, is the very gateway to the ground of God.
Holy Mary Mother of God, thank you for bearing this ground.