Mary,  Mother  of  Jesus,  Mensch  

                       By  Jane  Gilgun            

                    Hail,  Mary,  full  of  grace,   the  Lord  was  within  you   nine  months  pregnant,  riding  on  the  donkey   to  give  birth  on  a  bed  of  straw  in  a  cow  barn.     The  magi  said  “a  hard  time  we  had  of  it,   just  the  worst  time  of  year.”   Did  the  magi  understand  labor,   the  effort  it  takes  to  give  birth,   the  gush,  the  push,  the  groans,  the  pain,   the  blood,  the  rush,  the  joy,  the  love?     No  midwife,  no  doctor,  just  you,   Joseph,  and  the  ass.   Did  you  have  water  to  bathe  your  baby?   Where  did  you  get  the  swaddling  clothes?   Were  you  exhausted?   Relieved  he  had  fingers  and  toes?   Did  you  hurt?   Did  you  sit  in  a  warm  bath?   Were  Joseph,  the  infant,  and  the  presence  of  God  enough?     How  about  the  journey  home,   the  long  way  you  and  your  family  had  to  travel,   you  sitting  on  that  donkey  once  again.   Did  it  hurt?   Did  you  ever  ask  God,  Why  me?     Why  aren’t  there  gospels  of  Mary  and  Joseph  

telling  of  the  raising  of  the  prodigy  they  named  Jesus?     How  on  earth  did  you  and  Joseph  raise  that  child?     What  genes  did  you  pass  on  to  him?   Joseph  is  of  the  house  of  David   but  Jesus  did  not  carry  Joseph’s  genes,  did  he?   Were  you  really  pregnant  and  shamed   and  Joseph  had  nothing  to  do  with  it?   How  about  your  house?     What  prophets  are  you  descended  from?   Did  anyone  keep  track  of  women’s  lines?   You  are  of  the  House  of  David.   Now  that’s  a  well-­‐kept  secret.     Jesus  got  his  brains  and  his  spirit  from  you  and  his  father.   You  and  Joseph  and  your  community  of  laborers   raised  this  child  for  whom  you  fetched  water,  went  to  market,   grew  food,  cooked,  cleaned,  made  clothes,  washed  them,  washed  him,   set  bedtimes,  meal  times,  the  rules,  clear  in  your  expectations,   abundant  in  your  love.     Did  you  teach  him  to  read?  Could  you  read?     How  spiritual  were  you?  How  good?    How  about  Joseph?    Did  you  and  Joseph  teach  him  scripture?     He  had  great  teachers  and  sought  them  out,   staying  with  the  rabbis  when  you  were  on  your  way  home.   You  labored  to  bring  your  son  to  manhood   and  worried  about  his  safety  and  his  genius.     Jesus  is  of  you,     You  are  like  my  mother,   all  mothers,  co-­‐creators.   You  co-­‐created  Jesus.     Mary,  I  never  thought  much  of  you,   forced  on  me  as  you  were  when  I  was  a  girl.   Be  like  Mary,  the  Blessed  Virgin.   Who  wants  to  be  like  her?   Her  long-­‐suffering  face  raised  to  heaven,   a  vessel  whom  God  acted  upon,  passive  as  a  lily  pad.   The  child  Jesus  rose  out  of  nowhere  but  God   You  had  nothing  to  do  with  it.   All  you  did  was  accept  and  weep.     I  never  wanted  to  be  like  that.   God  did  all  the  work.  

You  sort  of  said  yes.     Now  I  want  to  be  like  you   full  of  grace  and  the  love  of  God   in  the  hope  of  co-­‐creating  like  you   or  at  least  encouraging  the  spirit  of  justice  and  care   that  is  already  present  in  so  many.     Selfishness  and  destructiveness  cloaked     in  virtue  and  self-­‐satisfaction  are  rampant  in  this  world.     You  were  too  busy  to  write  a  gospel   You  did  not  tell  your  story  your  way       Somehow,  I  must  have  loosened  the  shackles     that  the  magi  and  others  co-­‐created  when  they   constructed  history,  God,  me,  other  women,  you,  Jesus,  and  Joseph.     I  bow  to  you  in  love,  respect,  and  gratitude.   You  labored  long  and  did  magnificently.   Now,  finally,  I  want  to  be  like  you,   not  for  your  passivity,   but  for  your  accomplishments   You  are  a  mensch.   You  are  a  mitzvah,  too,   The  gifts  you  gave  you  gave  without  others     knowing  what  you  had  done.     Jane  Gilgun   5.8.11   Mother’s  Day  

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