August 15, 2011

Mother Mary

Abigail's Alcove is encouraging people to share stories of when Mary has "intervened" in our lives.  I immediately thought of the following story and wanted to share it as a way to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption.  (Happy Feast Day!)

Throughout my life I have been blessed with many good friends, but my senior year of college was when I found a true kindred spirit in my classmate Danielle.  She was funny, energetic, caring, talented, and passionately pursuing God.  I had never had such a good friend who was such a good Catholic and I enjoyed every moment with her.  We quickly became best friends and our love for one another was deep and solidly founded on Christ.

And then she became a nun.  I mourned the loss of her like she had died.  It was really, really hard. 

But through her loss and my new job at a Catholic student center I became much better friends with my former campus minister, Beth.  Beth and Danielle had always been close but now I was hurting in a way few could understand and I was in need of a mentor.  Beth opened her heart and (on several tear-filled nights) her home to me, and through phone calls, dinners, holy hours, and road trips our friendship grew into something quite extraordinary.  God had blessed me with a woman who was a perfect combination of older sister and best friend. 

And then she became a nun.  Another loss to mourn. Despite all my joy for my friends' beautiful vocations, I was incredibly sad.

The Fall of 2005 was a very lonely time for me.  No one wanted the title "Bonnie's Best Friend" out of fear they'd end up in a convent.  Also, God revealed to me that the next person I'd describe as my best friend would be the man I'd marry, which gave me long term relief but made me a little more sad in the meantime. 

Then one day I got a letter from Danielle, who had a new nun name by this time.  I went into the chapel of the Newman Center I worked at, sitting in the pew in front of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  I read the letter.  In it she said that we were both wrapped in Mary's mantel.  I closed my eyes, leaned back against the pew, and imagined Mary sitting in between Danielle and I, her robe wrapped around all three of us, keeping us warm. 

It may seem silly, or sensational, or cheesy, or crazy, but I truly did sense Mary at that moment.  It felt like she was sitting right next to me.  And I felt certain that down in Nashville Danielle was sitting in her chapel, right next to Mary, wrapped in her robes.  Just on the other side of me.

I felt so close to my friend in that moment.  It was a precious gift, and it happened more than once.  I used that imagery repeatedly and it helped me feel physically, emotionally, and spiritually close to both Danielle and Beth, often at times when I was quite lonely or scared or unsure of myself.  Mother Mary gave me the gift of sitting in the presence of friends who knew me quite well but loved me nonetheless.  She gave me the gift of the joyful peace of true friendship. 

While Mary wrapped us in her mantel she was showing me her love, treating me to something special, helping me feel encouraged - exactly like a mother would! 

But it's easy to understand why she would do that:  My best friends were nuns - talk about running with the right crowd!  There was no way I was gonna get in any trouble with a couple of nuns by my side!

What about you?  Do you have a great story about Mother Mary?


  1. My Mary story......

    I dropped my big kids off at school and it was a school mass morning. I packed up the 3 little ones who were still home with me during the day. A frustrated and very tired mommy knew that I needed to be at mass because A was doing a reading. Did I say that I was frustrated and exhausted?!?!?!? I didn't know how I would manage.

    I sat there and listened to the homily about Fatima and the faith of those small children and I remember sitting there and crying. Why did I have such little faith? Why couldn't my children behave? Where was my heavenly mother? Couldn't she see that I needed her? I needed her mothering more than anything. The only prayer that I could eek out during that mass was, Please God send me Mary today just like you sent her to those small children.

    Mass ended and I hurriedly tried to get out of there to avoid any angry stares because of the ruckus my children caused during mass. I managed to get outside before a little elderly lady stopped me - uh oh!! I'd been nabbed.

    She gently looked at me and proceeded to tell me how wonderful my children were and how well behaved they were and how happy she was to see them there. She told me I was doing a good job. She encouraged. She uplifted. She soothed my frustratiions. She ministered to my tired and worn out soul.

    Before parting. I said to her, "You know, I see you at mass all the time and I don't even know your name."

    Her reply was quite simply, "My name is Mary".

    Now I know what you are thinking...... Well there a million and one Catholic women out there named Mary that's just a coincidence. But I knew in my heart that God heard my plea. He caught all my tears. He had sent me Mary.

  2. What a wonderful consolation! My best friend from senior year of college is currently in the process of joining the Carmelites. I remember when she first told me over the phone that she was joining I gave the most hollow sounding, "Oh I am so happy for you" and tried to carry on the rest of the conversation without her figuring out that I was sobbing on the other end. In many ways it was like hearing that she had a terminal illness and would only be with me for a short time longer before God called her to himself. I am happy for her, but sad for myself. Thank you for sharing your story it has brought me a lot of comfort.

  3. I love the word pictures in your story - I could really see how you felt Mary in your time of need. Thank you for sharing!