It's never too late to be who you might have been.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I sometimes think that in the Holiday Season we forget that Mary was a human being. She probably told jokes, agonized over her hair, and had more than a few opinions. I've picked a few of my favorite pictures. We'll start with the triptych by Van der Weyden. I really dig this one. It's like: Angel: Hey mary, how's it going. Mary: Don't bother me. I'm like 14 years old, I'm reading, and, as you can plainly see in the panel on the left, my parents are about to come home soo- Oh...it's you.
I think we don't give Mary enough credit sometimes. According to tradition, Mary was actually presented to work in the temple ( Samuel-style [Old Testament Jepthah's Daughter probably had the same deal]) when she was around eight years old. Like perpetual primary-seminary school, until she was around thirteen, fourteen or fifteen. This is depicted in the Giotto Mural...which I also think is interesting because the dude was obviously having a lot of fun with the new element of "perspective" in art when he painted this. ( "Hey guys! Look how I can make the stairs look 3-D using this ruler!)
So we're talking about a probably highly educated, religious scholar-ette type teenager Mary, who lived in the Capital City ( so she probably had a pretty broad background for people and fashions and cultures...I mean trade was big in Jerusalem even then).
Now imagine post-enunciation Mary who had to suddenly "keep these things and ponder them in her heart" ( Luke 2:19)...probably because unmarried pregnant women (Uh-Oh) who walked around saying they were carrying Elohim's child ( UH-OH!) had a terrible habit of being bludgeoned to death by rocks in the public square. In fact, at that time ( though the numerous summer-home vacationing Greek Aristocrats had some influence) women who walked around really saying ANYTHING had a terrible habit of being bludgeoned to death with rocks in the public square. It was a bad time to be a woman, especially since the current Judeo tradition pretty much stated that women weren't actually autonomous people, but extensions of men, and that they were were basically incapable of non-evil rational thought ( I don't think everyone actually believed it though). Now, Mary...as far as we know...was probably the only person alive at the time who understood the true nature of the God-head...and she really couldn't say anything about it without becoming dead. Imagine Mary listening in Synagogue: "And Yaweh Elohim is an eternal angry ever-present spirit who desires to annihilate us all." "Um....actually....he's right here in my stomach...well Yaweh is....and um Elohim seems like a pretty nice guy ( they're actually two people) because he sent His Son to earth to save everybody, including the gentiles...and the Holy Ghost is actually a separate person...because the Holy Ghost came upon me a few weeks ago and....why is everyone looking at me so weird?"
That is, that would happen, if women were allowed at synagogue at all...probably not.
So the last picture I have is Of Mary, who after the annunciation went to visit her cousin Elizabeth in the suburbs,and have the first ever Christ-centered feminist retreat (NOTE: Elizabeth's husband really couldn't bug them either, since he was struck dumb by an angel at the time (Luke 1:20). So they were pretty much two women home free who could walk around saying all sorts of crazy things all day and, you know...they may have porked out on whatever the middle eastern snack food was at the time ( Hummus?), and talked about hair care, women's history, exchange rates and theo-cratic politics. I mean, they hung out like three months...with no speaking men in the house as far as I can tell. Lot's could happen.
Ya, Mary. You're pretty cool.
Merry Christmas Everyone!
( Giotto's "Presentation of Mary", Van Der Weyden's Annunciation Triptych, "Refuge" by Liz Lemon Swindle)