I’ve always, for as long as I can remember, been drawn to the story of Mary the mother of Jesus. It could have been playing her in the 3rd grade Christmas play that ended with the big finale – not the birth of Christ, as you’d expect, but rather the entire class singing Bette Midler’s The Rose. Even after I took off the pillowcase sewn into a veil for my starring role, Mary and her story have stayed with me even into adulthood.
All of my favorite biblical stories involve Mary. The angel Gabriel telling her she’s going to be a mom. “Are you kidding me?” is essentially her first response. Mary telling Jesus to fill up the wine glasses at the wedding at Cana. “Mom, it’s not time.” “Yes, it is. I’m your mother and know best.” I’m paraphrasing, of course, but her responses are always so authentic. It’s Mary’s visit to Elizabeth that I think about often. Two women, both pregnant, one as the older mentor to the young girl. Elizabeth greets Mary with, “blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” It’s not lost on me that Elizabeth acknowledges Mary first – before the baby growing in her. I like that. It’s a nod to women needing each other as they become moms and as they find themselves in new situations. Female mentoring has some strong historical ties. I think it’s there in scriptures.
I’d like to consider myself a person of faith and, at times, it feels like feminism and faith (especially Catholicism) can be at odds. Yet, I think the opposite. I’m taking my lead from Mary. She had some doubts but said yes to God. She had no idea how she was going to do it all but she did. Is it a little artificial to say that she “leaned in?” Maybe it sounds funny but I think she did. Leaning in could be boiled down to saying yes when opportunities present themselves. Savvy women notice when there are opportunities. Smart, savvy women then talk about it with their friends.