Searching for Mary

Just a few scanty notes here on Easter Monday.  
A few years ago I found myself belonging to a fledgling group of Episcopalians devoted to honoring Saint Mary, the mother of Christ.  Now we Episcopalians are an interesting lot.  The “high church” lay people like me love the incense, bells, high liturgy, Rite I, vestments, and many have a devotion to Mary.  Not worshiping her, but honoring her as the Mother of God.

The “low church” or more Protestant lay members think we’re crazy, and are suspicious of anything they think smacks of Catholicism.

Hundreds of years since the Protestant Reformation swept England, we Anglicans are still quarreling about candles and Mary.  The high church laity like me may use an Anglican Rosary, and have some distinct leanings toward conversation with Mary, which freaks out the low church members.  I’m in the group who uses an Anglican Rosary, and embraces Mary as my Mother, Sister, and more importantly the most important woman in Christianity.  I believe in giving her what’s due.  Please don’t talk to me of false idols, or spout Scripture about me running off the road spiritually.

So I look with sadness upon the dissolution of the monasteries, the sacking of the shrine of Our Lady of  Walsingham in 1538, along with her sister shrines of Our Lady of Doncaster, Our Lady of Ipswich and others.  From the time of Edward the Confessor to Henry VIII, Our Lady of Walsingham had been a pilgrimage site for lowly born to kings.  Then she was cast low, her property dispersed to royal flunkies, and she might have been lost to us forever, if not for a few who kept her memory.

Our little order of Our Lady of Walsingham didn’t last long, and went out with a whimper.  I have no idea what happened; one day we were a group, then nothing.  My black women’s Anglican cassock, blue scapular, and black cincture are hanging in my closet, a sad kind of souvenir.  

My love for Mary is undimmed.  I look to her by myself, or with other Anglicans, as we seek her wisdom with respect and child-like love.

Remembering Today: Virginia Woolf

On this day in March 1941, Virginia Woolf filled her coat pockets with stones and walked into the River Ouse, drowning herself.  Many a writer has suffered from set backs, personal and professional loss, attacks from critics, but Virginia Woolf was one who couldn’t shrug it off anymore.

I would hope that were she our contemporary, she would be able to get the help she needed with her severe depression.  How can we as writers live with rejection and depression, and find the happiness and success we crave?  It seems almost fleeting when it does come, and then we must keep going, keep producing, wearing our hearts on our sleeves.  My friends, if you find yourself being worn down by life, please seek some help and unburden yourself.  Nothing is worth leaving our loved ones behind to deal with this kind of leaving.

Here’s part of the last note. she left her husband (from from
“Dearest, I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don’t think two people could have been happier ’til this terrible disease came. I can’t fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can’t even write this properly. I can’t read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that—everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer. I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been. V.”

Such a heartbreaking thing to leave behind.  Suicide is a selfish act, but she seemed to rationalize that her husband’s life would be better off with out her.  Such is the mind of a suicide.  Rest in peace, Virginia Woolf.
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