Franciscan Spirit Blog

Seven Days with Mary: Relinquishment

As a writer I’m particularly struck by words that most of us know the meaning of, yet rarely incorporate into our daily conversations. Relinquishment is such a word.

I begin each day asking the Divine to help me let go, to help me surrender, and now I will also ask for help in relinquishment. It has a more impactful song than “let go,” a plushness beyond “surrender.” How beautiful to connect the cadenced syllables of this word with the exquisite face of the Black Madonna.

I love stories of spiritual epiphanies, even more so when they occur on pilgrimages. Holly’s story of giving over her crippling thoughts to Mary is uplifting and depicts the miracles that occur when we seek her. To let go of something that is impeding us from giving our unique talents fully in our lives—this is a miracle. Not just for the person receiving it, but also a miracle for all those who will be touched by a woman living and creating with more trust and open-heartedness in the world. In other words, a woman living more like Mary, in alignment with God. The word alignment always makes me think of that image of a straw in a river, turning itself to just allow the water to flow through. It’s so simple, and yet, when it comes to relinquishing, so hard. It’s a daily challenge to turn like that straw, and to allow the river of God to flow through.

It can take time to even recognize the weight of the heavy thoughts within us; they are insidious. Holly locates the burdensome question she’s carried: Who do I think I am? I, too, have had a similar question inside me, and I’ve had many conversations with other seekers who also struggle with this. For me, the voice inside mocks and jeers, asking, Who do you think you are? For this voice, the answer clearly is, you’re nothing.

These negative thoughts can feel so much like conclusive facts. They hurt us to the point where we end up groping in a false sense of darkness. But the Great Mother does not leave her children in a scary place alone. A mother’s love reaches into the places in our heart where we need her most. And so, the image of the Black Madonna shows us a way out of those lies, a way beyond our low-esteem, beyond our wounds of feeling unworthy. The radiant serenity in her expression, and the luminous pearl of a world she holds, is a counterpoint to our contemptuous inner voices. Gazing on the Black Madonna doesn’t just redirect our negative self-thoughts, it exposes them for the lies they are and melts them. Relinquishing our lives to Mary allows the buds of our true selves to turn to the light and to blossom.

Marian Prayer

Mary, help me to be a good example of what is good and holy.
Help me to appreciate the gifts God has given me and to keep my thoughts and actions pure.


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