Thursday, October 01, 2009

Did I Really Pray That?

Grace Revisited

"Hail Mary, full of grace..."

It was one of my first responses. And it surprised me.

I'd just experienced some ungracious treatment. Surprising. Baffling. Seemingly designed to hurt. And this was what came to mind.

The words are part of a Catholic prayer. But as far as I could tell I wasn't praying. Not to Mary, so it seemed. This felt more like the kind of supplication I'd written about in God in the Yard. An inchoate longing. Oh, to be full of grace, like Mary long ago.

The ache was so keen it brought to memory a beloved book... Scot McKnight's The Real Mary: Why Evangelical Christians Can Embrace the Mother of Jesus.

In this book, McKnight asks, "What kind of woman would sing a song [a poem!] like this?"

His answer is a steady look into the face of Mary. McKnight gently reminds us that while this woman had her foibles, she was full of grace. And I can tell you, that's just what I needed to hear. I sought to respond to this message in gratitude.

Most of you know I'm not a big promoter of books. I only share what I like. I only speak to you what speaks to me. Today, I want to go one step further and give what gave...

Simply comment below by 6:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, October 8, and if your number is picked by the Random Generator (no worries, it doesn't hurt), I'll send you a copy of The Real Mary: Why Evangelical Christians Can Embrace the Mother of Jesus. And know that if you are here reading this today, you have my prayers to be full of grace.

"Grace Revisited" art, Mineral Pigments and Gold on Kumohada Paper, (c) copyright Makoto Fujimura, 2002. Used with permission from Makoto Fujimura. Also available as Grace Note Cards at the International Arts Movement Store.

"Graced" photo taken at Laity Lodge, by L.L. Barkat. (Scot has spoken at Laity Lodge, but he showed up exactly one day after I left. Ah well. For an interview I did with him, that reveals his approach to writing, read Writing the Natural Way.)



Would you like to share your own thoughts on Mary and grace, parenthood or friendship and grace, or just... grace? Post a poem or story and drop your link info here. I'll give links to All at the bottom of this post. For now, I await your grace...


TUC's If Jesus Were My Son
Amber's On the Mother of God
Jim's Grace in the Streets
Glynn's May it Be to Me
Kelly's this grace
Joan's There's Something About Mary (Joan is offering the winner a GUEST POSTING opportunity on BELIEFNET.)
Laura's Giving it All Away. (And, in celebration of a brave teen, she's giving away 2 copies of her book Brody's Story)
Monica's Attracting His Gaze
Marcus's Hail Mary, Full of Grace and Controversy
HighCallingBlogs Turning Point Poetry
Cindy's The Mary Beyond, Human, But More
Jessica's Resounding
nAncY's home again
Heather's Forever Grateful
Ann's Grace to Please the Lord
Maureen's poem The Etymology of Mary
Glynn's He Had to Be
Jennifer's Dangerous Love: A Sword to the Soul
Bonnie's Do You Enjoy Fear Gazing
Jubilee Conference's Motherhood, Vocation, and a Free Book
Bradley's [challenging] Something About Mary
Tina's Amazing Grace
Kim's Entering the Story
Glynn's final of the triptych You Son, Now
Deb's Mothers, Mary and Obedience

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Anonymous WordLily said...

Mmm, sounds like a good book. Oh, to be full of grace!

10:31 PM  
Blogger Babychops96 said...

sounds like a great book. first time visiting your blog and i will definitely be back :)

11:09 PM  
Blogger Mac an Rothaich said...

Was linked to your blog and pleasantly surprised to find you have raised something I have never thought about...

12:06 AM  
Blogger Karin said...

I think it's my first time here.
I observed two brothers in the Lord as they accused each other. This is the poem that poured forth in response.


Why do we think that the sins that we see
Are definitely worse than the sins that we don't?
I may recite all the flaws that you have,
But convince me of mine you certainly won't!

I may express anger, be proud and outspoken,
But resentments and vengeance eat you up inside.
I may be harsh, impulsive, unfeeling,
But cruel deception, slick cunning you hide.

In God's eyes, I ask you, whose sin is the greater?
Are not both our hearts jet black with sin?
Both of us call ourselves Christians, but tell me, my brother
Where is the Fruit of HIS Spirit within?

Let's confess and repent, humbly ask for forgiveness!
Our debts will be canceled, the slate be wiped clean!
God in HIS mercy accepts each one, a sinner,
In whose life HE wants HIS Grace to be seen!

Karin Ristau

12:07 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. -- That is the part I like best: the Lord is with thee. As with us all if we recognize it. (Most of us don't as often as we should.)

2:39 AM  
Anonymous Tracey said...

What I pray for daily-Grace.

6:09 AM  
Anonymous suzy said...

i suddenly found this prayer spoke deeply to my heart a few months ago.
though i had prayed it many times before. i find it brings me to the heart of this woman of God. in many ways an ordinary girl at the time of being chosen yet undefinably special and unique. i love the idea of this book. the idea of capturing the real mary. she is heavenly yet also deeply human. as a woman it is her humanity that draws me to her.

6:17 AM  
Anonymous Jen Leitch said...

Sounds like a wonderful book. I love your blog!

7:18 AM  
Blogger Maureen said...

Lovely post, L.L. Want to think on it some more.

P.S. I ordered your book; it's due any day. I look forward to reading and commenting on it.

7:51 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

To be full of grace, to sing a song of praise in the face of what seems impossible, to join with God in his excitement instead of hiding from the possible earthly pain of it . . . a thought to carry with me today. Thank you.

8:13 AM  
Blogger coachD said...

Could be a good read - - thanks for the blog.

8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's my entry. Thanks!

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Amber@theRunaMuck said...

This is great, L.L. Here's mine: on the Mother of God

9:06 AM  
Blogger Bay said...

I was interested in this book when I first heard of it, but forgot all about it. Just saw the post on the runamuck blog & would love to win this! :o) Thanks for the chance.

9:12 AM  
Blogger kirsten said...

It's good to encounter a bit of sanity where Mary is concerned. The title and subject matter of McKnight's book is compelling, given how (in general) the evangelical community speaks/thinks of Mary, especially in response to the veneration our Catholic brethren give her.

A friend and I were just speaking of her yesterday and how we longed to have her heart: a heart that gave a full yes to Christ, despite of what it would cost her.

Full of grace, indeed.

9:31 AM  
Blogger BrixPop said...

I'm interested to see a non-catholic's view of Mary. So often Protestants avoid discussing Mary, let alone showing adoration or respect because it's "too Catholic".

9:42 AM  
Blogger Kari Kounkel said...

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now...

My favorite line. Who couldn't use a little more prayer.

I'm planning to spend a little more time at Seedlings in Stone.

9:46 AM  
Blogger TUC said...

I could use to be full of grace...

9:51 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I preached a message a few years back on Mary for Mother's Day and I was so grateful for the process of working through that message. I stumbled upon your blog this morning and was thankful for the reminder of the lessons I learned back then. Thanks.

10:19 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth @claritychaos said...

I'm visiting for the first time via Amber at The Run Amuck. I just requested the book from my library. Thank you for the recommendation.

10:38 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Beautiful, L.L.
As a newish Catholic, embracing Mary was so powerful.
I will look back through my early posts to see if something could apply, but perhaps a newer prayer/poem will come.
Thank you. Again.

11:06 AM  
Blogger Billy Coffey said...

I will gladly read any book you recommend. And I LOVED that article. Very informative.

11:07 AM  
Blogger backrowbass said...

I'd love to read this. Thanks for letting us know about the book.

11:16 AM  
Blogger Far Above Rubies said...

First time visiting your blog and I will be back.

Grace is more than compassion and kindness. Grace is God's power to do what is right. How I long for the grace Mary had. The grace that was able to say to the angel Gabriel - "May it be unto me as you have said."

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Kelly Langner Sauer said...

There are times, L.L., when I resent that others are writing the same things that are on my heart, when I feel my own originality will be lost in the more-original of the masses. And there are times when the most comforting thing in the world is knowing that there are others in whom the Spirit is working the same as He is in me, when the encouragement I need to rise from the breaking comes trumpeting through with the Truth that has changed me. Thank you for the reminder of His real today, when I am facing an old, worn-out battle and too weary to fight.

"For with God nothing will be impossible."

Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." (Lk. 1:37-38)

11:41 AM  
Anonymous CircleReader said...

Send some of that grace my way! ;-)

"I whirled out wings that spell
And fled with a fling of the heart to the heart of the Host.
My heart, but you were dovewinged, I can tell,
Carrier-witted, I am bold to boast,
To flash from the flame to the flame then, tower from the grace to the grace."
~Gerard Manley Hopkins

11:49 AM  
Blogger Susanna said...

as an evangelical turned episcopalian, i have found myself drawn to Marian prayers at times of crisis in my life. intellectually, I still don't embrace Marian spirituality fully, and yet I, like you, find myself saying the Ave Maria.

11:52 AM  
Blogger Monica Sharman said...

Considering that prayer I am wondering, can I say that I am full of grace? that the Lord is with me?

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Laurie said...

Thought provoking post! I'll be thinking on this for a while.

1:21 PM  
Anonymous Brenda Branson said...

One of the most amazing songs I've heard is "Magnificat" by Todd Agnew on his CD called "Do You See What I See?" The lyrics of the song follow the prayer (poem) of Mary after her visit from the angel. What profound depth!

1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was my first time being linked to your blog, and I really enjoyed it! Mary has always been very mysterious to me as a Protestant. I would love to see what the author has to say in the book =)

1:24 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I am so enjoying these meditations on Mary. What has always amazed me about her was her ability to see the unseen. I'm just not sure I could have responded so magnificant-ly :)

1:25 PM  
Anonymous alli said...

grace is something God keeps impmressing upon my heart these days - letting me know I do not understand it, but oh, how I long to. thank you...
alli in SC

1:36 PM  
Anonymous KimA said...

I hear in my head often a song off my childrens' CD..."I want to say YES! just like Mary said. YES, YES, YES, Lord!" I wish everyone could realize how accessible Mary is to every Christian, no matter what your denomination. Jesus did "give" her to us (and us to her) in John 19:26-27. How perfect is our prayer through her!

2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the opportunity to have this book. :-)

3:33 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

I think it was a wonderful thing to pray. I am not a Catholic but I have a fascination with that faith and with their love of Mary. Thank you for posting this. I look forward to reading more of your writing.

6:00 PM  
Blogger Elyse said...

i have a deep admiration for Mary and would love to know more about this woman who was worthy of giving birth to our Lord... and also so willing.

6:38 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

That does sound interesting. And I love to read....I may check it out either way.

7:20 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

I would be very interested in reading this book. As a former Catholic I need to see Mary in another light... and as a person named Mary I need more grace!

8:07 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

Please add me to the group. I had a Pastor who once said that it wasn't that God's choice of Mary was not an indication of her worthiness but rather an indication that God's grace would be unique in her life.
Yes - I want to have a life like hers.

9:36 PM  
Blogger Lorrie said...

I can't imagine... to be FULL of grace - wow.

11:51 PM  
Anonymous Susan said...

Yes Lord, let me be full of your grace. Susan

8:52 AM  
Blogger Colleen Foshee said...

"Blessed are you among women" - I crowned Mary's statue with a beautiful wreath crown each May in Catholic school. We were never taught to worship her, only to acknowledge and honor her special place and devotion to the Trinity. Welcoming God's graced love plan with open arms and little understanding. Knowing she is alive now in the company of the great cloud of witnesses cheering us all on with her mother's heart is a comfort. Such a clear picture too of Christ in us - both then and now - the hope of glory. Thanks for giving honor where honor is due.

3:42 PM  
Blogger Esther said...

I love the buzzing I hear all over about this book....thoughts that have been on my mind for a while now.

3:42 PM  
Anonymous tonia said...

oh, sign me up! i'd love to read this one. thanks!

6:07 PM  
Blogger Heather - On the Road... said...

This book sounds so good! I really want to read this (as if I don't have enough books on my plate/want to read list!) :)


7:34 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I would love to read this (already checked and there's no kindle version yet!)...thanks for blessing me by spreading the word about this! I'm so intrigued.

3:17 AM  
Anonymous THSWarrior said...

The erroneous hunam belief in a power apart from God was the original sin, and is still with us. Praying to Mary is just one small part of our relentless useless search for something else to worship other than God. All humans will remain lost (distant from God) as long as they continue to think about anything (or anyone else) other than God. Peace will come when humans accept the simple fact that God is All. We are all part of Him, just as Mary is a part of Him. Why is that so difficult to accept?

7:34 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

this whole catholic protestant thing has me thinking about matters with new eyes since we have moved to ireland, which seems to be the cauldron for this 'problem'.

as for grace... grace is a life rewritten. it needs no words for the eyes witness it. the ears here it and the body moves according to it.

12:34 PM  
Anonymous Bradley J. Moore said...

Whoa. Fifty Comments? And just about all of them women? Well here's what I think: I once read a book where the author referred to God the entire time as "she." It was a little weird at first, but then I actually started to enjoy it. I am sometimes jealous of the Catholics, because they have been able to integrate a feminine figure into their theology, unlike the Protestants. I believe that God has been over-masculinized in the scriptures, owing I'm sure to centuries of male-dominant societies, when instead I would much rather have the duality of gender represented better in my own view of God. I think the Catholics figured this out with this in their high esteem of Mary.

3:15 PM  
Blogger Jimmy_C said...

I am so thankful for God's grace for me. May I learn to pour that grace on those i live with and love.

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Doug Young said...

You are amazing!

11:07 AM  
Blogger Bina said...

Hello and thank you for taking a glimpse at my blog. "Intersection - Mary's Heart with Mine" will post early Saturday morning so as not to ruin the surprise for retreat. :)
I thank you for your willingness to read it...and I hope to "see" you again...but blessings to you today!

12:47 PM  
Blogger Bonnie said...

I would love a copy of the book.
You made me smile with Makoto Fujimura. I adore his writing and his art.


1:49 PM  
Blogger FaithBarista Bonnie said...

I've always thought of Mary as a woman I could admire,but couldn't never relate to.. until I became a mother myself!

Would love to win that book. Thanks!

2:18 PM  
Blogger chrissie k said...


10:42 PM  
Anonymous Austina said...

I'm excited to see you'll be at Jubilee 2010. As a new step mom, I hope and pray that my mothering will always be full of Grace for my children.

10:45 PM  
Anonymous Allison said...

As a recovering Evangelical, I have longed for an understanding of the more feminine aspects of my faith...maybe in your book I will find that! Thanks!

10:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not easy to come to Mary "fresh" without the anti-Catholic reaction, which is much more of a reaction against mistruths than anything else. I'm looking forward to the book.

6:36 AM  
Anonymous Julie said...

Recently read The Blue Parakeet and enjoyed it. This book sounds interesting. Here's a poem I recently came across again that reminds me to extend grace to others and sometimes even to myself.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

-- Jelaluddin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks

11:18 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

As an evangelical and a stay-at-home mom, I am very intrigued.

1:07 PM  
Anonymous judy said...

Sounds intriguing. . .

1:40 PM  
Blogger Lacie said...

I haven't thought enough about the amazing sacrifice Mary made...thanks for bringing it to mind

2:30 PM  
Blogger britney said...

linked to your blog from The Flourishing Mother...

i grew up in a catholic family and would be interested to read that book.

great blog!

11:14 PM  
Blogger Kim Anderson said...

I'm intrigued. I'm also engaged with the idea. See the playlet at

11:26 AM  
Blogger Janet Oberholtzer said...

Found your site recently (don't remember how:)
Recently read "The Blue Parakeet" - enjoyed it and would love to read "The Real Mary" also.

Beautiful Art!

9:06 AM  
Blogger Jennwith2ns said...

I've been mulling over her for years. I'd love a shot at that book.

2:31 PM  

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