Tuesday, June 11, 2013

France, Mary, and me

in a side chapel at Rouen Cathedral, I discovered this treasure

On our recent pilgrimage of the great French Cathedrals we encountered countless pieces of religious art.  But as my insightful mother in law MarySue Schriber noted, 
“good art shows you something new that you haven’t thought of before, as distinct from confirming what you already know.” 
I've been pondering on that, and came up with a few images of Mary from our pilgrimage that helped me discover something about the Mother of Jesus, by opening up my memory--and my imagination.

AND at Compiegne--love her stance!
My first draft of  The Seekers Guide to Mary was completely journalistic.  I covered everything:  Mary in relation to scripture, history, other faith traditions, shrines and prayers. 

But my editor at Loyola Press kept pushing me, urging me to say it, “in my own voice.”  It was the hardest thing I had ever faced as a writer—and the best thing I've been pushed to do. 

Mary has always been part of my life as a Hispanic Catholic.  But how do I explain that to you?  The process of rewriting and editing that book made me focus on my own relationship with Mary, and it made me work on how to explain it to other people. 

Crypt chapel, Chartres
Notre-Dame-la-Grande, Poitier
I had to learn that it was—or rather, it is—through my own stories as a youth, as a mother,  with my own family that I can best tell you about Mary. 

I once heard author Madeline L'Engle say at a writers’ retreat that, yes, it's all been said before. But we have to tell it in our own voice.

At a personal level, that’s how Mary makes sense to me. 

the three kings, Epiphany at St-Pierre de Chauvigny
and the Annunciation (back), with demons and angels watching (front)