Christmas Eve for me is inevitably a reflection upon the Mother Mary. Since I have been a child, I have been fascinated with the story of Mary and the journey of a young maiden who was visited by angels and called to the service of God to be commissioned with the almost incomprehensible task of birthing the Son of God.
I think of her travels on Christmas Eve; her courage in bringing a baby into the world that would change the course of mankind; her fortitude in traveling while so heavily pregnant; her determination in birthing her baby in a barn; and her faith knowing that one day her child would die as a representation of love and hope for so many. Mother Mary herself has become a light to humankind as a symbol of pure love and faith in the greater good. She is the All Mother and the representation of sustained Goddess worship within the confines of a religion that has not been uplifting to women in history.
While there are those who will argue the veracity of the Christmas story, I interpret the traditional story of Mother Mary as a celebration of Motherhood; she was heavily pregnant, weary from her journey and had no comforts in the birth of baby Jesus in a barn. Sometimes only another Mother can appreciate the humanity and courage of bringing a child into the world, knowing that there will be hurt and struggles that you cannot prevent. Every baby that is born is a symbol of hope … of love … and that is what the story of Mother Mary represents to me – a story of faith and hope and love, not only in God, but in herself. Mary overcame her all too human fears and wrapped her son in the love and hope of a Mother.
Earth, hold me on your sturdy lap for I am your daughter and my birthing is your own. Earth, receive me into your deep cave and encircle me there while the child struggles forth from my own body’s cave. Earth, cool me when my body fires. Earth, absorb the water from my womb, seawater, Passover water, tears. Earth, be anointed with the blood of birth. Earth, be my birthing chair. Earth, echo all my screams. Earth, tremble with my ecstasy. Earth, Mother of all, upon your bed of loam, within your shelter of rock, let me bring forth our child. from Circle of Mysteries by Christine Lore Weber
Mother Mary stood by her child as he was vilified and persecuted. She never flagged in her love for her child, even knowing that his end was going to be full of pain, fear and blood, just as his birth had been for her. She had faith in her mission and and support of Jesus, knowing that the culmination of his life would be inexpressible horror for her as the human Mother and yet he would be revered one day as the Savior of the World.
Should I be howling like a she-wolf of the hills whose lair is gutted and whose young are scattered dead upon the rocks? Should I let loose the cry tearing at my throat with claws? Behind me from the women in the crowd keening rises into the dark sky like the scream of eagles. but I hold my keening down. I close my lips against knives of sound sheering my soul. The Word has died. Nothing I can say is strong enough.
I am no longer soft. They loose him from the tree and lay him on my lap and I am stone. I am the insensible mountain. I am the ancient volcano that is cold. Within me crawl little cleansing worms, polishing my bones, obsidian and diamond, preparing me to bear this load of death. He, too, is bone. Death makes one thing of us. Neither of us feels the rain. from Circle of Mysteries by Christine Lore Weber
Since my son was born the day after Christmas, I spent a lot of time in contemplation the year of his birth in the over two weeks that he was overdue. I was wrapped in the glow of preparing for my son’s birth; reveling in each kick; decorating the nursery; reading stories aloud to my tummy. The cold contrast of the story of Mary to my own was so disparate to me. There was no lovingly prepared home and best friend to clasp her hand and whisper to her to breathe through the pain. I stand in complete and utter respect and love for the SHEroic job that Mary did as a Mother. Her ascension to become a balm to the world, dispensing unending love and understanding makes sense to me. She listens to the prayers of the world and absorbs our hurt just as she sat holding the lifeless body of her son and still had the capacity for acceptance and love.
The holidays especially can be a time of darkness for many. They feel alone, angry, devastated by their lot in life. For those who are in pain and for all of us, Mother Mary stands as a beacon of the ability to overcome pain, to love when you want to give up and the embodiment of compassion and hope.
Mother Mary is the re-membrance that we can conquer anything with faith and hope and love. The proof of that is the babe that Mother Mary held in her arms on Christmas Day and on the day of his death. The proof is also in her great love for humanity despite everything that happened in her human life. She manifests to us in visions, dreams and is a steady unflinching presence in the face of the dark nights of our souls. Her boundless capacity to hear and answer our prayers and love us no matter what is the embodiment of the phrase “love conquers all”.
The birth of my son was not the time that I first experienced Mother Mary and her deep well of love and compassion. As a small child, fearful and anxious in the night, I used to talk to a Lady who appeared in my window during a particularly stressful night. Her regular visitations and our conversations continued for over three years. Upon my arrival at Catholic School at 8 years old, I was pleasantly surprised to see a large statue of my Lady in the courtyard between the convent and the school. She was my constant companion in the new world of Christianity and Catholicism for me. When I felt confused about the mixed messages and knowledge of my heart versus the theological presentation, I knew that sitting in the chapel with my beautiful Lady would always make me feel better and more clear. The presence of The Lady, Mother Mary, Queen of Heaven certainly seems to surpass all boundaries and belief systems, making her one of the most potent icons of modern Goddess in the world today.
Each Christmas Eve, I light a candle for Mother Mary. As I watch my son grown into a man, I think each year that my love cannot get bigger, but it does. I don’t know that I would have the strength to give him up and experience the loss that is every parent’s deepest fear. I will whisper a prayer to this Mother Mary, our All Mother and thank her for loving me, loving my child and standing as a shining light for all us. And fom the little girl who was soothed to sleep warm and cosseted, mumbling a conversation with The Lady, I carry her with me always in a very special place in my heart.
May you have a Blessed and Merry Christmas!
Some of my favorite books on Our Lady – Mother Mary:
Sophia by Caitlin Matthews (has some great chapters on Mary)
**This article is part of our 52 Goddesses series where we highlight a particular Goddess each week and invite our contributors to share their reflections, experiences and interpretations. You can read about more Goddesses under 52 Goddesses.