Monday, October 05, 2009

The Danger of Mary

The Dress, by Sara

"May it be unto me..."

Those are inspiring words. They suggest an enviable attitude-of-heart. Like I said before, oh to be gracious, like Mary long ago.

But they are dangerous words too— perhaps not for the reasons that first come to mind. (And this is a good place to express my delight over the offerings many of you are making, in your own posts and poems... offerings that delve into the wonder of Mary's resolve to face danger for the love of God.)

Anyhow, let me explain a secondary danger.

This weekend I'd planned to go to a birthday party (sorry, Sis! :), but instead lay sleeping in the grips of a nasty cold. The secret of enjoying such disappointment is to bring a few books to put beside your pillow. When you wake, you are treated to an opportunity to lie in bed, read and muse (green tea and chocolate are optional; I self-medicated with both.)

When I woke and poked through the book stack, I pulled out The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self. Before falling asleep, I'd enjoyed the preface of The Wisdom of Wilderness: Experiencing the Healing Power of Nature, in which May had spoken of spending time outdoors to discover your inner wilderness, which is "the untamed truth of who you really are."


Upon opening Miller's The Drama of the Gifted Child, the message was the same, "In order to become whole we must discover our own personal truth, a truth that may cause pain before giving us a new sphere of freedom." The truth Miller speaks of is partly to move past denying one's emotions and needs, to "experience consciously certain feelings" that childhood may have taught us it was dangerous to feel... "jealousy, envy, anger, loneliness, helplessness, or anxiety."

If we never feel these things (and many who experience difficult childhoods— or whose parents experienced hard childhoods— do not feel these things, or work very hard to repress them), we risk a lot... unexplained seasons of vengefulness, depression, perfectionism, addictions, even rage.

And this is the danger of Mary— to sit only with "May it be to me...", to interpret it as a self-effacing submissiveness and denial of needs and feelings... not to see the other side... a woman who felt free to cry, ask, mourn, fight.

I do believe Scot McKnight captures the balance of Mary's personality— the woman of feeling, fighting. There's still time to win his book; just comment here before Thursday, Oct. 8, 6:00 pm EST. The winner will be offered an opportunity to write his/her thoughts about the book in a guest post on Beliefnet!

There's also time to offer your thoughts about Mary and/or grace. Just drop your link info here and I'll link to your post. Or respond to our poetry prompt, "the real...", for possible feature and definite links from HighCallingBlogs. Drop your poetry link here before Thursday, Oct 8, 6:00 pm EST.

Book club discussion of The Wisdom of Wilderness, at HighCallingBlogs
Monica's Wilderness Call on the Freeway

"The Dress" sculpture by Sara. Photo by L.L. Barkat.

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Blogger Laura said...

These are provocative thoughts. May's book is helping me to (once again) learn more about myself. This is fairly important in my profession. I have to be careful not to let my "stuff" interfere with therapy. Funny, though, this self-discovery never seems to end. Perhaps because of my background, must go deeper and deeper as the psyche permits.

I'm enjoying the journey thus far this time around. That's a bit new.

I love Sara's dress sculpture!

8:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read Drama of the Gifted Child decades ago. Narcissism in one or both parents can and often times will dramatically stunt a child's ability to go beyond heightened, hyper-sensitive awareness of others to the exclusion of self awareness and healthy self-love. Recovering self from such difficult childhood experience is an often times long and painful process. When survival in the family system is predicated on denying self by becoming a gifted mirror for another/others only in order to receive even the most modest love and affirmation, the damage is profound.

10:12 AM  
Blogger Jennifer @ said...

I have to admit that I had been lazy in my study of Mary before this weekend.

This Protestant honestly had done very little to see past the woman in my nativity scene. Studying on Mary this weekend -- and writing this a.m. -- has broadened my view of the Mother of God. And yes: it's dangerous, this Mary-Love.

L.L.? Thank you ...

My contribution is over here:

10:19 AM  
Blogger Maureen said...

The danger is always to see only one side, to accept the surfaces others present to us, when it is the light we need to see our own visage shielded in the dark.

Three quotes come to mind on reading your post this morning:

"Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding...." ~ Kahlil Gibran

"The worst pain a [person] can suffer: to have insight into much and power over nothing...." ~ Herodotus

"When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid." ~ Audre Lorde

To "dare" perhaps as Mary did, for, as Glynn wrote: "He Had to Be."

10:50 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I went on a 3-week retreat as part of a graduate program a while back. The verse God gave me the very first day was the one you discuss here: "May it be unto me according to your will." Let me just say, that retreat was a ride with God the like of which I have never quite "recovered" from. Finding and allowing all those hidden emotions, indeed!

PS L.L., I just finished co-leading a group of women at my church through Seedlings. Your words and your story touched so many lives . . . what a great work you've done!

11:41 AM  
Blogger kirsten said...

One of the earliest posts on my blog was about Mary's big yes to God, "May it be to me as you have said". It is dangerous. It is daring and provocative. It is an open door to cross-carrying.

4:51 PM  
Anonymous Jasmine said...

Thought provoking is true.

Mary's words "Be it Unto Me," expressed her freedom to be who God called her to be. It is when Mary said those words that she learned to be everything that God intended her to be.

To think those words dangerous, would only hinder my growth.

It was in Mary's surrender that she truly became great. Discovered who she was... May it be unto me are words that can only lift you to a greater anointing and a greater power.

Thank you for such thought provoking articles. Thank you also for allowing us to share our own thoughts.


6:43 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Jasmine... I'm thinking I agree; these are critical words to say to God. I think the words are dangerous when we generalize them to life situations and people, rather than to God. And sometimes I think that is an achingly fine line, yes?

7:02 PM  
Anonymous Jasmine said...


I believe I understand now. You have made a good point.

God bless you richly!!

9:41 PM  

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