Well, it was going to be Wordless Wednesday, but I haven't yet downloaded the September photos , and after going to Morning Prayer at our Church with Becky (who just slept - our current running joke is that she will think she never leaves her house) I felt compelled to write.
Most people I know are aware I'm I'm baptised in the Church of England, I think, (Anglican/Episcopalian, to narrow it down) although some of my best friends literally are Methodists, and I have some leanings which are very Catholic. During the first few weeks of Rebecca Mary's life, when I was dealing with long and difficult night feeds, I had August's copy of Magnificat propped alongside me and it helped me immensely, as do the words of bloggers such as Kate Wicker & Sarah Reinhardt, dedicated Catholic wives, moms & writers gifted with incredible and helpful insight.
Although in the Church of England we don't perceive Mary in quite the same way as Catholics do, today's Morning Prayer was devoted to her, as we celebrate her birthday on 8 September, and it took place next to the Lady Chapel, which is dedicated to her and is a special place of healing in our Church. Prayer flowing from me in front of licensed clergy in a way it has never done before, I was able to offer up thanks to Mary for saying yes to becoming God's servant, & giving us Jesus. (I also prayed for all God's children, especially the little ones starting school, facing new challenges today.) As a mother, with my 5 week old baby girl next to me (who, although two of my great-grandmothers were Marys, is named for the Blessed Virgin) I could strongly feel empathy with dedicating her life and her child to God. But although my children will go back to God sooner or later - I believe they are a precious gift on loan to us as parents, to nurture them during their time on earth - I have no concept of the suffering Mary encountered during Jesus' last days.
The Old Testament reading during our short, informal service was about the Judgement of King Solomon. He had to decide which of the two women was really the mother of the living baby before him (the other had died; both claimed the living one for their own.) He realised that the real mother was the one who was willing to give up her child to another, as long the child was allowed to live. As a counterpoint, Mary, mother of Jesus, gave up her child to God to benefit us all, but she had to see him die.
Today, in addition to Mother Mary's suffering and loss, I will be thinking of all the precious moments she shared with Jesus before he left this world. I will hold in my heart mothers who have lost their precious babies, some of them even before they were born, some of them before they were even recognised as life. I will also be thinking of all the mothers and carers where I live who sent their precious children to new schools and new classes today, many of whom were tearful or felt on some level bereft.
Thank you, God, for the honour and gift of mothering, and helping us through the difficult times; thank you Mary, who truly suffered as a mother, and whose dedication to the path God laid out for her can help us as mothers today.