A Catholic Monthly Magazine

The Quiet of Mary

Joy Cowley

by Joy Cowley

Hail Mary, chosen of God. You were little more than a child, an empty room filled with sunlight, lacking in self-awareness, sensing only the tidal pull of the universe drawing you to a place and time. Even then, you did not notice that the sun stood still, burning up all shadow, and the voice that spoke had the depth of ages. You looked down at your feet jewelled with dust, and said, “Whatever it is, let it be done to me.” And God became your guest, furnishing the empty room with wisdom.

Thank you, Mary, for the gift of simplicity.

Hail Mary, mother of Jesus. You gave God human form, and for nine months you held that newness, feeling within you movements of the life that would change history. This was the treasure you held in your heart. When He was born, you looked into His eyes, seeing eternity, and you knew what all mothers know, that all babies come into the world with angel song.

Virgin of the Annunciation by Antonello Da Messina www.backtoclassics.com

Thank you, Mary, for being the mother of all mothers and all newborn.

Hail Mary, woman of hospitality. It was a fine wedding party, music, dance, food, and then the wine ran out. You felt responsible for the guests; but your son was not yet ready for the huge commitment that lay ahead. He argued. You insisted. For years you had been his teacher, helping Him to take first steps, and you knew now was the time for Him to take the step that would establish His mission. So water in jars became the wine of celebration, and a symbol of all that was to come.

Thank you, Mary, for making the blessing of marriage, the first miracle.

Hail Mary at the Cross. When you gathered all those treasures in your heart, did you know the nature of the sword that would drive through them? That day, the world went black with a grief so much bigger than you. You felt the pain of every mother’s child who had been tortured and killed. And you were every mother who had lost a child. Your only solace was the thin voice of wisdom that threaded itself through the darkness to remind you that all crucifixions have resurrections.

Thank you, Mary, for being with us at times of great loss.

Hail Mary, mother of the Church. No one told us about your leaving. We see a quiet room filled with light and wisdom. We see work-worn hands and a life nearing the end of the steep path of blessing. When your boy came for you, what did you say? Did you ask him where you were going? I think you already knew what was to be, and gladly you took his hand, He now guiding you, to that wider place of presence beyond words.

So now we sit with you and Jesus in the same quiet way, knowing but unknowing, aware of the tidal pull on our hearts and the voice asking the question. We feel the same bewilderment that you did, but now you are here, and here is your Son, so we are able to whisper, “Let it be done to me.”

Thank you, Mary, for the emptiness that receives.

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