These polygonata were seen at a friend’s house the other day, the name referring to “many knees” or, as I would tweak it, “every knee”, as in every knee shall bow to the name of Jesus, in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. The roots, it is said, look like Hebrew letters. The nickname is Solomon’s Seal, though I would instead refer to these as the Root of Jesse. These are for our Lady, mother of uncountable souls, more than the flowers under a patch of polygonata whose boundaries stretch beyond the horizons, more than the stars of heaven or the grains of sand on the seashore.
We’ve been having some discussion on imagined impressions of our spiritual experiences, so to speak, including impressions of our Lady. Of course, it matters nothing at all what our impressions are, for reality is something much greater than our weakness and blindness in being able to perceive anything spiritual whatsoever. And yet, our impressions are in our face, so to speak, all the time.
About her, some verses of Proverbs come to mind:
She looks for wool and flax
And works with her hands in delight.
She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.
She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And portions to her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it;
From her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She girds herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.
She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night.
She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hands grasp the spindle.
She extends her hand to the poor;
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.
But more than that. Two other images come to mind for me that combine together with this:
(1) The first image that comes to mind is that which one might find in any neighborhood filled with a zillion kids who are always running about. There is surely a woman in the area to whom all the kids gravitate, as she always has cookies baking, is always prompt to encourage and, what is most appreciated, is ready to reprimand in a consistent and firm way, offering direction and a way out of trouble by way of reparation and positively doing good, an advocate, a protectress, a lioness and she-bear all at once, someone who treats all the kids the same but treats you as if you were the most important person in the world for whom she had all the time in the world.
(2) Now, take that image and jack it up a bit. In any Missionary of Charity house for the sick or the dying or for AIDS patients or for the homeless geriatrics or for unwed mothers there is always a sister who is a Mother Teresa type, who makes sure the most humble bits of service are done by herself (like cleaning the toilets, which is the job Mother Teresa reserved for herself), and makes sure everyone is treated with courtesy and respect and goodness and kindness, including, if need be, with tough love (the Missionaries of Charity also being famous for the tough love bit, which is good).
Now, putting all those together, along comes yours truly, the troublemaker. She ascertains whether I need any bandages or splints, any protection from untoward violence, or need to make reparation, whether I need any encouragement, or a cookie, and then… and then… I’m put to work for the others there, you know, in the field hospital, without delay, she simply pushing me in the direction of her Son: “His name is Jesus; do whatever He tells you.” Of course, that pushing me in front of her Son might be done with her eyes, drawing me to Him:
And that’s how I see Jesus, someone who, in my case, not only takes me in as a brother, but a blood brother, someone ordained to His priesthood, “This is my body given for you in Sacrifice, my blood poured out for you in sacrifice,” He wanting to teach me how to love others as He loves us. I’m a difficult case, slow to learn, awkward in providing help, glazed eyes for anything complicated, but wanting to follow Jesus’ instruction as a little brother might follow the direction of his big brother. I might then tentatively bind up this or that wound of whomever, even as Jesus binds up also my wounds. He might direct me to say whatever it is that He wants said even as He teaches me. There is nothing esoteric here, nothing gnostic, nothing out of reach. There is something of the Sacred Mysteries, yes, but because of being so very normal: He’s become a Man, a God-Man, a Divine Person, but a Man like me, a brother, a close friend, my Lord and God, my Savior, One for whom I would exclaim with the Apostle Thomas, “Let’s go with Him; let us go to die with Him!” But then I know I might just as easily run away when it all comes to Calvary. He forgives me, and tells me so, risen from the dead as He is. What a wonderful field hospital when the Doctor Himself has risen from the dead.
This morning I was struck by fire of the Holy Spirit, and, therefore, with the fatherliness of our Heavenly Father, that he dotes on me… even me… since His Son laid down His life for me. Doting. Kids delight in being doted upon by their fathers. This is what the Holy Spirit wants to do for us, to so form us into being one with Jesus that we are given, through, with and in Him as a gift to our Heavenly Father, who bounces us on His knees and then sets us back down so that we might scamper about under the watch of Mary even while trying to learn from Jesus.
O.K. So, now I’ve made myself totally vulnerable. I can hear it now: “Father George is such a simpleton, a bit schizo, not living in the real world, insane really.” Fine. But I’ll tell you this: my world is full of the blood and guts of any field hospital. I know that Marx speaks of religion as the opiate of society, pie in the sky, a distraction, but I’ve never been brought into more reality than when I’ve made myself available at the field hospital to taken care of and to take care of others all in the midst of the Holy Family. The entire drama of human existence, of sinful humanity, of suffering and anguish before God and man comes crashing home always because God Himself, Mary’s Son, has come crashing into this world. Look at His wounds…
In the end, it’s not about our perception of who we are before God and man but about God’s love that He instills within us. It’s not about a competition about any holiness anyone might enjoy as compared to someone else, but about living in the midst of the love that Jesus gives to His Mother and all who will receive it. It’s about Jesus’ love, not Mary’s love. It’s about Jesus’ love, not any love we might have. It’s about Jesus. Our Lady becomes the mother of many children of God, so to speak, because she points us to Jesus before whom every knee shall bow, much to the delight of her maternal heart.