“…be not discouraged, but have recourse to Mary in all you necessities. Call her to your assistance, for such is the divine Will that she should help in every kind of necessity.”
– Saint Basil the Great
“Let us entrust to her intercession the daily prayer for peace, especially in places where the senseless logic of violence is most ferocious; so that all people may be convinced that in this world we must help each other, as brothers and sisters, to build the civilization of love.”
– Pope Benedict XVI
As I sat down to breakfast this morning, two things grabbed my attention as I scrolled through messages on my iPhone – an email from a friend who led a memorable trip to France 4 years ago and the estimated death rate of 100,000 in the US over a few month period because of the corona virus.
As I took in the death rate, aware that much uncertainty still surrounds the future, I went back to the email from my friend, Marge. She had sent a lovely Sunday meditation recorded at one of the stops on our tour of the Carcassonne region of France – Rennes Le Chateau. I decided that all my unprocessed thoughts and emotions about the devastation of the virus might benefit from doing the meditation immediately.
I went to my yoga room which was created so that I could zoom chair and restorative yoga classes to those that might need it during this stressful time. My mats were already set-up for my weekly classes. I added props to release into my favorite restorative pose as I listened to David Bailey’s calming piano music. I imaged him playing at Rennes Le Chateau.
Immediately, my mind recalled the image of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Instead of dismissing where my mind wandered, I tapped into my inner witness and just watched my thoughts. As the first born daughter of a devote Irish Catholic mother and grandmother, I could not escape inheriting each of their names, Mary. While my mom honored the family tradition by naming me Mary, she decided to give me my middle name, Denyse, after her French penpal. I grew up and went through most of my life being known as Denyse. “Mary Denyse” was reserved for times when I had done something wrong or when the patriot act made me resort to the name I was given at birth for all financial and legal transactions.
My meditation then drifted to my “Mary” memories. The trip to France with Marge had already awakened many memories that had been dormant. Although, I’ve not been a practicing Catholic for many years. The myth, symbolism and power of Mary has a strong hold on me. Our trip to France took us to a region that had a history of worshiping both Mary, the Mother and Mary Magdalene who some thought to be the wife of Jesus. I learned more about the history of both Marys’ alleged life in the region during tour.
These stories would have no doubt raised more than the wimple covering the righteous St Joe’s nuns who linger in the shadows of my elementary school memories. Some of those memories flooded back to mind. I witnessed the awkward, gawky 5th grader who was too tall for her pre-pubescent years. At her last May procession at St Francis of Assisi Catholic School, she was moved away from her classmates to the back of the procession with the 8th grade girls. This meant her knee sock years were done. She had to walk the block and a half from the school to the church with her navy blue uniform covering the uncomfortable garter belt and nylon stockings the teens in eighth grade wore. By the time she got to the church, the garter belt remained in place, but the nylons which had no stretch, did not quite conform to her girlish legs. She was mortified to see a pool of wrinkled nylon swimming around her ankles.
My meditative witness then took me to happier times, gathering violets with my grandmother to place on her “Mary” altar in her kitchen. Then, I remembered my family, coming home from Sunday Mass, and as a family getting on our knees, praying the rosary to Mary for world peace. The cold war was a real threat. We took seriously the mantra – the family that prays together stays together.
As my consciousness came back into my yoga room after this very visual meditation filled with past memories, I realized how privileged I have been throughout my life. The corona virus, knock on wood, like the cold war, only touched distant friends and family. No one in my immediate circle so far has been harmed. It reminded me of a meme I saw on FB about all the people who were fretting and whining about all the inconveniences of not feeling free as they chose to socially isolate. It was an image of a series of white people and then a lone black male saying “welcome to my world.” For many of us, life is easy and relative risk free. For so many others, it is not
I thought about my privilege and silly little fears about videoing myself. I cannot know what it’s like to live in constant fear for my life every time I leave the house. When the lockdown took place in March, I felt compelled to share the healing benefits of yoga. An on-line video could reach more people during the time of social isolation. As I thought about my fears and the scope of world problems, I decided that I had to do something even if it came from my place of privilege. The impact of the corona virus made my background noise disappear. I launched myself into the previously foreign world of teaching chair and restorative yoga on video using Zoom. I felt driven to do this just as we felt driven, as a family, to pray for world peace.
My absorption in teaching Zoom based yoga classes seems to have consumed my life since 1 April. (It wasn’t lost on me that my first Zoom class was on April Fools Day.) Still, this commitment to share a practice, that has helped me in times of difficulty, is what got me up in the morning. I connected to people I knew and those I didn’t across the US and Internationally. Together we pause and practice together. What does this have to do with Mary?
As I sat down to write this, I went back to Marge’s email. The words didn’t register when I first read the description of the meditation. When I reread them, all became clear:
This meditation, in connection with ‘THE DIVINE LOVE’, also your guides and spiritual doctors, to be used as a channel for the flow of ‘THE LOVE’ for mankind. To aid each one of us and heal ourselves. It is destined to create an international opening for ‘THE LOVE’ to flow throughout the world, strengthening the work of all light workers.
Whether you call upon Mary or something else to connect with The Divine Love, I wish you good health. If you are interested in listening to the piano meditation which starts with a French introduction, followed by one in English, here’s the link – https://www.spreaker.com/show/david-baileys-podcast. Peace and love to all. Enjoy the remainder of May, Mary’s month. Don’t forget to wash your hands!