June 20, 2018

Our Lady of the Legos, the Loo, and the NICU

Thirteen years ago I was using the powder room in someone's home. I had never been there before so when I walked in I was a little surprised to see a large statue of Our Lady displayed on a shelf above the toilet.

As I rejoined my hosts I commented, "I like the Our Lady of the Loo statue you have," a bit of a cheeky grin on my face. They laughed and explained how it was a wedding gift and they hadn't known where else to put it (there was religious art *all over* their home) so they put her in the powder room. It worked!

Our Lady of the Loo has stayed with me ever since, at least the idea of her.

I don't think this is actual theology, this whole making up whatever name one wants for Mary, but it has given me lots of little inside jokes with the Holy Family over the years and has helped me to keep laughter and the Lord in my heart and home.

In the hallway, across from my toddler's door, hangs an icon I have dubbed Our Lady of the Eye Roll because when I'm having a hard time with my toddler I often roll my eyes as a way of communicating to her how stressed out I am. She sees me at my worst.

On my dresser stands Our Lady of the NICU. She holds her Infant, her crown is broken, and her dress is sticky from the residue of hospital tape that secured her to my son's neonatal intensive care unit bassinet. She holds memories of my hardest days and worst fears and prays for the trauma of it all.

I thought of this little way of mine when I was clearing off the dining room table after lunch. I sat the salt and pepper shakers on the buffet, which triples as our liquor cabinet and family altar. When I saw where I had placed them I smiled and said, "Our Lady of the Salt and Pepper Shakers, pray for us."


I hope everyone understands that this isn't me making fun of Mary or her titles. In fact doing this has brought me closer to the Blessed Mother as she meets me in these small, mundane moments of my every day life. The religious art in my home becomes an entry into prayer instead of a decoration and always, always Mary does what she does best and she uses these moments to draw me closer to the Heart of her Son. 

Nothing is too small to be loved by Jesus. Nothing is too boring to be brought to His attention. But it is often in those little moments where I most need Mary's prayers to guide me, I need her presence to remind me. 

And so the serendipitous placing of Lego creations on a shelf so they can be proudly displayed by my older children while protected from my younger children becomes a moment to laugh and then pray.  


Our Lady of the Legos, pray for me that I will delight in my children. Pray for me that I will nurture their creativity and confidence and the knowledge of when to try harder and when to let it go. Pray for me that I will encourage them to share and work together and support one another. Pray for me that I will detach myself from the desire for perfection and will place more value in my children than in a decorated, tidy home. And Lord have mercy when I step on a Lego and curse. +

And then I leave it in her hands, confident that her prayers for me will continue throughout my day. 

Please know that Marian theology and devotion has not always been easy for me. When other Catholics would gush about Our Lady I just didn't get it. I respected her as the mother of my Lord, but there wasn't a ton of intimacy. 

Our Lady of the Loo changed all that for me. She was the beginning of a beautiful relationship which has grown through the years to a place where Mary is friend, mother, confidant, companion, mentor, and prayer warrior. And so I share my names for her with you in case this helps you to love her more, to aid you so that you will let her love you more. Her love has been such a great gift in my life. Thanks be to God.



PS - While writing this post I remembered the beautiful work that Christy Mandin creates. Her images of Mary are some of my favorites ever. You can check her out at A Creative Almanac, though most of her Marian prints are found on her inprnt store. The above image of Our Lady of Solidarity was created in response to the immigration crisis at the border. Christy is donating a portion of the profits of each copy sold to Together Rising's efforts at caring for the children and families there. What's more, inprnt has promised to match her donation!

15 comments:

  1. Our Lady of Solidarity is beautiful! May she pray for us and hold separated children and their parents in her protective mantle. May the Lord have mercy on us for our cruelty to the least of these.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Beautiful post Bonnie. I’ve always felt an “easy” relationship with Mary, but my relationship with Jesus has always felt “complicated.” As I reflect back on my life I feel like Mary was always there, carrying me, interceding on my behalf, pleading before her Son to have mercy on me and I have this idea of him saying to Mary “Woman she is yours.” Then Mary kept praying and working on me and showing me things and pointing me in certain directions, which ultimately led me back to her Son. I’ve only really felt a “real and good” connection to Jesus in the past one or two years—after finally fully consecrating myself to Mary. I finally feel like I’m able to look at him in the Eucharist and allow him to love me. If that makes any sense. And it’s taken me a lifetime to get here. Whew.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a beautiful witness to the Catholic perspective that Mary always leads us to Jesus! What a friend we have in her. My love of our Lord has strengthened as my relationship with her grew, too.

      Delete
  3. This is really beautiful. My relationship with Mary has been developing over the last few years, especially as I've often prayed the Hail Mary often on my early morning runs. Asking for help to be a nice mom each day. Also, learning the magnificat and praying that each evening has increased my devotion. Thank you for sharing this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes to the Magnificat! I LOVE that prayer so much!

      Delete
  4. This is so awesome. We get mailed the "America Needs Fatima" calendar every year and there is a title of Our Lady for every single day of the year. When we were camping a few weeks ago, one of our kids was like, "Is there an Our Lady of the Forest?", and sure enough she was on the calendar this week... She is Our Lady at every moment of our lives... and I love this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really?! How cool is that?!
      But is there an Our Lady of the Legos? ;)

      Delete
  5. This is beautiful! What an awesome, simple reminder that Our Lady is in every part of our lives and homes, this made my morning. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Patty. I'm so glad it did.

      Delete
  6. This is so endearing, Bonnie. I love this. I've been trying to develop a closer relationship with Mary and this helps!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good for you! Reading 33 Days to Morning Glory was also really helpful for me. You don't have to do the consecration when you're done if you don't want to, but reading Mother Teresa and JPII talk about Mary was incredibly powerful for me.

      Delete
  7. We have an icon of our lady of perpetual help hanging above our laundry chute. I named her our lady of the laundry (which is perpetual). 😊

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are hilarious! Seriously, this is brilliant!

      Delete
    2. Honestly, I'm altogether glad that I'm not the only weirdo out there who gives Mary all kinds of New names!!! Hahha (and when I say weirdo, I mean it in an endearing way... hahaha)

      Delete