I was drawn to ENZA’s cover of Beyonce’s rendition of the Ave Maria. Just a girl and her voice, nothing more—much like the person whose life inspired the song. Who was this Mary of Galilee? She has been at the center of controversy and many theological headaches as people try to figure out her place within doctrine. Beyonce’s Ave Maria moves away from the intellectual conundrums and simply tells the story of a girl–a girl who was confused, lost, challenged, and yet filled with determination and faith to face whatever life brought her way.
According to tradition, Mary was from a poor farming community and was not formally educated. It is this woman, marginalized because of gender, class, and neighborhood, who was chosen to be a messenger of hope. Though art and scholarship tend to depict her as a delicate, submissive girl, her story is one of a woman who fights…who is strong…who takes charge…who does what is needed to fulfill a calling…who trusts without knowing all of the answers.
Like many of us, she did not know what challenges awaited her. She did not know she would be risking her life, she would ride a donkey while 9 months pregnant, that she would be exiled and become an undocumented immigrant, she did not know that her son would be rejected, humiliated and executed. Despite the not knowing, she took a chance…took a risk…got messy…and said bring it on embracing her life with gusto, boldness, determination, and chutzpah.
Whether you engage her story as just a mythological narrative or as actual events at the core of religious traditions, Mary’s story is one that many of us who are facing life’s uncertainties about jobs, vocational calling, relationships, and how to live with purpose can relate to. This poor, marginalized, Jewish mother is an inspiration for me in learning how to embrace life, on how not to give up, and on how to trust the journey bumps and all. What does her story teach you?