Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Mary My Mother

I caught this song by Patty Griffin in one of my many searches for music to include on my iPod playlist "Caitlin & Mom." The song is "Mary." It speaks to me, because it reaches deep inside of me and resonates the strings of a loving bereaved mother.

I shrink when people tell me that God knows how I feel, or that I must remember that God gave his only son. I'm stunned, because for me, there's little sense in this. If we're gonna go all Bible-literal here (which I will barely attempt, so put your bible away--you won't need to get those verses ready for quotin'.), God was separated from his son for three human days; I can't even imagine what that would feel like for him. My mind goes crazy--if Caitlin had come home after three days?! But this is crazy talk. I won't launch into a ridiculous discussion of what God feels or what some proselytize that God feels, because, I can't imagine. I'm left unconnected to God's experience, and I know better than to play a comparison game with another bereaved parent.

There's nothing wrong with me for feeling this way; it's simply an honest statement of how I feel. I seek a lesson that goes beyond any literal translation or dogma articulated by others. Mary waited the rest of her life to see her son (until ascension for those who believe in this aspect--I mean it, put the Catechism away this is not an attack on an established religion, I'm just trying to be inclusive).

Mary was left to grieve--and it is that experience that resonates with me. Being left to grieve, is something that I not only imagine, I live.

The birth and death of a child, and the mother who nurtured that life, loses that life, and is left to grieve and continue her motherhood is a timeless story. I'm one of millions of mothers who experience this. And because this is an archetypal story, I am held by Mary, My Mother. She was left as Griffin sings, "cleaning up the place." And Caitlin's passing left me to clean up the ordinary. I cleaned up our house by putting away the dead flowers from funeral, the stuffed animals that laid in her crib, and her clothes, and books, and sympathy cards. And in "cleaning up," I made a new place for Caitlin in our home. More importantly, I'm left to tend to my heart, my soul, and my mind, and make new meaning and find ways to survive and thrive. I remain behind to hold those whose hold me in my sorrow, to mend and maintain relationships and foster new ones. Caitlin couldn't stay a moment longer, and I am left stained by her death and still loving because of her life, still nurturing, still her mother. I must "lift the shroud" that is my task.

In Griffin's song, the Marian anthem lives on. The dedication and honoring of a woman who suffered the loss of her child, helpless to change the course of what was to be. Mary becomes every woman "covered in roses, covered in babies, covered in treetops, covered in stains." who suffers and endures, and from that sorrow new life and new joy emerges. From my little world to the world, I find that others have found that Griffin's song aids in expressing this sense of everywoman. Dr. Estes describes Africa as a bereaved mother in the opening of her article with "Mother Africa: for hundreds of years she's groaned under humans who have harmed her by looting her treasures, setting enmity between peoples, and by forcing stones atop her greatest minds and hearts so they could not grow into giants." And she later calls for Griffin's mother Marian anthem to be the "prayersong" that petitions for Marys everywhere to endure with strength and a great heart.

But, I digress. In short: I found this song, it makes sense to me for little things and big things.

Here's the anthem and here's the lyrics.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, my gosh. That song breaks my heart. OK, so it was already broken. But, it just affirms every grief-filled feeling I have. Thank you for sharing it.
    I don't know how you have the strength you do. It's nothing short of amazing. Please know that you truly inspire me to be a better person.