Letter to Mary

Dear Mary,

I wanted to take what you did, and break it down. Make it manageable. Digestible. Like the tiny piece of bread you eat during Communion when you'd rather just take that whole loaf back to your seat, please and thank you.

I wanted to reach inside your story so I could be a better servant.

So last week, I searched hard for your formula.

It must have been her blind faith.

Or that she magnified God.

Or that she embraced her role as a servant.

And while we're on the particulars, l took your background into account:

To be God's servant, youth is of upmost importance. And virginity. Virginity is key. But, still betrothed for marriage. To an established man preferably, from a strong family line.

If these are the essentials, this list of who and how and the matter-of-fact things any eye could see, then your story looks nothing like mine, Mary.

Last Thursday, as I sat in a bleary-eyed circle of residents and spoke Luke 1 slow over our  bowed heads, someone caught your humanness.

"I noticed the word discern," he said.

And I laughed inside, because I noticed it too, but not for the discerning part. I noticed the troubled part. 

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man who name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary.

And he came to her and said:

"Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!"

But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.

There you are, Mary.

I see it now, for what it must have really felt like. People pray to you and light candles for you and search for you in their slice of toast, and sometimes I think we forget:

You were troubled. Greatly troubled.

You asked "How?" You weighed the impossibility.

You ran to your friend, Elizabeth, because no one can keep a promise of God alone.

You are human after all.


My friend Fran gave me a necklace with your image on it, hands outstretched, halo over your head. She gave it to me because it was free and because she has a matching one, which means we easily qualify to win the award for the weirdest friendship jewelry ever.

We actually have a pretty strange friendship, too. We wouldn't have even met if it hadn't been for our brokenness. If she hadn't had a visible disability and if I hadn't been looking for somewhere safe to go after graduation, we never would have known the other's name.


Isn't it astounding how the weakness in us lets in wonder, love, connection, mystery?

In your weakness, Mary, you let God in.

Not just inside your mind or on a Sunday morning or within a prescribed set of beliefs, but in your very womb.

When I wear you around my neck, I am reminded that I can be troubled. I can be weak. I can need others around me who understand. I can ask and seek and knock. And then, even when all the pieces don't add up, even when the world will call it weird and impossible and scandalous, I can say "yes" to God.

With love,