Franciscan Spirit Blog

Seven Days with Mary: The Unfinished Story

To think of Mary’s story as unfinished gives me comfort. There are moments in my morning quiet time, the smoke of rose incense rising, where I pray to her and I find that sense of peace within.

It starts in my center, like a cloud clearing, and peacefulness radiates. Those moments, I fully trust that everything in my life is well, and I am filled with a light, airy sensation. It’s a welcome respite to receive her comfort, because I live so much of the time hounded by my worries of the future. Do I have enough money to support myself? What if my cancer comes back? When I can connect to her I even, most importantly, let go of my endless anxieties about my two adult children. I fill with gratitude that we are all still here, my children and I, and that we have everything we need, and it’s more than enough.

I’m painfully aware that those moments of pure trust often elude me, even though I keep Mary’s images near. On a chain around my neck, never taking it off, I wear a tiny Blessed Mother medallion (made for infants). She’s also on my skin 24/7 in a Renaissance image by Della Robbia. This “Bliss Madonna” tattoo was inked on my left arm during some of the darkest hours of my life. On my desk, I keep a zoomed-in photograph I took at the Duomo in Florence, Italy. As I write this, her eyes gaze from under her hefty marble crown, and her scepter tilts toward me. What I am admitting is that even in spite of my round-the-clock seeking, I often feel so far from the possibility of a mother’s love. I believe I am, however sad this might be, still struggling with feeling worthy. This unworthiness has hounded me since childhood, and it is only in my 50s that I have been making any significant headway in changing it.

Now, as I reflect, I see that the mornings and the autumns and the years have gone by, and in continuing to pray to her, I’ve been able to let her in more and more, and because of this, I am realizing my worth. I can say that I love myself now with a tenderness that I had not ever known—this is from her. I can say that I am more gentle with others now, the gentlest I have ever been. This is from her.

I want so much to keep deepening my ability to be gentle with myself, with others, with the world. So this, I think, is her unfinished story moving forward. The story of being able, each day like a new brushstroke, to feel more loved and more whole. With her perpetual blessing, I see how far I have come. I have such a long way to go.

Marian Prayer

Mary, I find comfort in your embrace. Enfold me in your mantle where I can find rest.
Fill me with your gifts of grace, that I may persevere through all I have before me. With you, I find peace and joy.


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