We remember Mary as a symbol of a life surrendered to God; she said Yes. She is the author and first member of the Christian Church. The baby within Mary was received as perfect Creation. She nurtures her son in Tenderness as he becomes the teacher, rabbi, master and lord. She gives Him to the world as an Offering with no limitation or ownership.
the center and beginning
Mary is often depicted in the East with her hands lifted up in prayer, Mary of the Orans. In this context Mary represents surrender, a feminine “be it done unto me”, “thy kingdom come”, “it is finished”etc. Mary, the mother of God spoke little, loved much and received the fire of God in her womb. Such a teaching! This is where our love of God and creation begins, and by grace we realize it happens within each and every one of us as well.
Mary was granted the awareness of love conceived and born through her. She houses an ongoing interior conversation and connection to the divine spirit created within. Mary was granted the awareness of something fantastically created within and through the awareness a life of prayer was born.
on the right side, the activity
We have been designed by God to love and be loved. Mary of Tenderness is depicted always cheek to cheek with her son, as an ideal image and model for loving. St. Augustine wrote; “Love and do what you will. If you are silent, keep silent by love, if you pardon, pardon with love’ . Mary is constant loving tenderness, the kind we might strive for in all we do, think and say.
Mary of tenderness represents our interior world, and how we love the exterior world; the love we express for another and creation. She is the ideal example to explore the limits of our capacity to love. There are more attributes assigned to Mary than any other image. Mary of the Light, Mary of Mercy, Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mary who births the Wonder Worker, Mary Queen of Heaven, along with; Mary of Good Council, Mary of Graces, Mary of Help, Mary of Health and Mary of Success. She is actively loving in all of them.
on the left side, the giving over
Christ was created in Mary, she nurtured that creation through constant tenderness, and finally she gives that creation, she owned and loved, away. Christ sits in her arms as she offers him to us, she gives the son she has taught. Mary does not hold back or try to control what has been given to her. She does not control the way He will be received. Although flesh and spirit became one in her and she cannot keep it as her own but has to offer it to the world.
Mary is the one who gives the very thing to the world she loves the most, her son! We are encouraged to follow suit; we are called to give away what we have created before we die, before it is taken from us. It is all on loan for our benefit, not to be kept but rather to benefit the world. Offer back to the world freely all your knowledge, time, talent, resources, etc.
Mary is a great symbol for learning how to be in the world. There is a beginning, middle and end to the Mary journey. We receive Him in mystery, created in us as He was in Mary, we nurture His presence with tenderness in our life through love and finally, we are called to release our life long efforts as an offering to the world.
Mary Jane Miller is a self-taught icon painter with over 25 years of experience. Her work has been exhibited in galleries, museums and churches in both the United States and Mexico, most recently featured in the Museum of Sacred Art in Querétaro. She is the author of three self-published books including Icon Painting Revealed, The Mary Collection and now In Light of Women. She has been published online and in publications such as Divine Temple Russian Orthodox Journal and Faith and Forum Magazine. Her website is www.sanmiguelicons.com and her icons can also be found atmillericons.com