I have a Mary in my kitchen.
Isn’t she lovely?
I didn’t mean to make my first “God in the Mess” post about Mary. I can’t imagine many of the people out there who read this are Catholic (well, Mum is) and I figure I’m pushing the boundaries enough, writing a ‘God’ post without coming out of the closet as a full-blown Catholic. But here we are. I have a Mary in my kitchen.
I know we’re talking about a piece of ceramic, here. I don’t get all superstitious about it and bring her cups of tea or rub her head for good luck or anything. But she’s there as a reminder.
Contrary to popular belief, we Catholics don’t worship Mary as a god. We just really, really admire her. She’s a good role model, I guess. I had some vague idea that when I was in the kitchen at five o’clock, about to whack some one or other of my offspring with a saucepan (possibly because they burnt the roast, destroyed the laundry or were considering vegetarianism), I would stop, look at Mary, take a deep breath and put the saucepan down.
I was so excited when I first bought my Kitchen Mary. It was exactly what I was looking for: simple yet special, traditional yet different. Even so, when I first got home, I didn’t rush to the kitchen straight away. Mary spent a lot of time in the plastic bag from the piety stall, wrapped in old parish bulletins. You see, I wanted to wait until the kitchen was sparkling clean before I put Mary in it. But setting to and cleaning the kitchen isn’t a straightforward task when you have little ones. There are nappies and spills and bandaids and bath time and the kitchen mess remains. Then it hit me (the profound thought, I mean, not the kitchen mess – though it WAS piled precariously high…): the thing I was doing with the Mary statue in my kitchen was exactly what I was doing with God in my life.
You see, I do want God in my life. I’m sold on that point. I’m a much better person, much more myself and I make much better decisions when I feel close to God. But I’ve been keeping God out, just the same. I guess, in the back of my mind I figured I’d become all spiritual when I “had it all together” or when I “had time to pray”. It was like it was on my to-do list right next to “clear out the linen cupboard” or “tidy the random drawer”: we both know these things are never going to happen.
But God doesn’t want the perfect versions of ourselves. God embraces our broken-ness and meets us in the mess. So, with this in mind, I put Mary in the kitchen, mess and all. The woman gave birth in a cattle shed, I’m sure she can cope. You might be asking “Why Mary? Why not a picture of God?”, well that brings me back to that thing I was saying about Mary being a role model. I need to let God meet me in the mess and Mary was really good at doing that. She changed baby Jesus’ nappies as a refugee in Egypt, and had to watch him die, naked and nailed to a tree, when he was an adult. These situations weren’t tidy. And she didn’t always have it all together (losing child in temple, anyone?) but she always let God in.
Plus, I don’t really like pictures of God. They make him look all strange and beard-y. Like Santa Claus on steroids.
So here’s my Kitchen-Mary in a candid shot (taken before I cleaned up the kitchen for the glamour shots above).
Our Lady of the Sausages, pray for us in our hour of need.