A kind woman in heaven

"As Protestants, we probably don't think about Mary as much as we should," said the pastor in his sermon on Sunday.

I think about her more and more. When my children were little, I resonated with the part of the Christmas story in which Mary "pondered all these things in her heart." Now that my children are older, I think about the letting go she must have forced herself to do over and over again from before her baby was even born to when she watched him die. I know, however, that there is much I don't know and understand about all the ways Mary can be thought of.

Late last summer I read Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather, a fictional story set in the mid to late 1800s about the first bishop in the New Mexican territory. There is a scene in this book that shows Mary in high regard. It gave me some new things to think about regarding Mary.

The scene is the middle of the night. Father Latour has just entered the church with Sada, a poor woman who is mistreated by the people she works for, whom he has found outside the church weeping.

Never, as he afterward told Father Vaillant, had it been permitted him to behold such deep experience of the holy joy of religion as on that pale December night. He was able to feel, kneeling beside her, the preciousness of the things of the alter to her who was without possessions; the tapers, the image of the Virgin, the figures of the saints, the Cross that took away indignity from suffering and made pain and poverty a means of fellowship with Christ. Kneeling beside the much enduring bond-woman, he experienced those holy mysteries as he had done in his young manhood. He seemed to feel all it meant to her to know that there was a Kind Woman in Heaven, though there were such cruel ones on earth. Old people, who have felt blows and toil and known the world's hard hand, need, even more than children do, a woman's tenderness. Only a Woman, divine, could know all that a woman can suffer...

'O Sacred Heart of Mary!' She murmured by his side, and he felt how that name was food and raiment, friend and mother to her. He received the miracle in her heart into his own, saw through her eyes, knew that his poverty was as bleak as hers. When the Kingdom of Heaven had first come into the world, into a cruel world of torture and slaves and masters, He who brought it had said, 'And whosoever is least among you, the same shall be first in the Kingdom of Heaven.' This church was Sada's house, and he was a servant in it.'