Stability & Identity

It has always been an imperative of human beings to ask the question, Who am I? What am I for? Do I know this person that I am, and do I like them? More recently, though, the great quest seems to have morphed from one of discovery to one of invention: Who should I be, and how shall I present myself? If I am not happy with myself in one context, I can refashion myself in another.

In the feast of St Mary we have an icon of another way. The traditional name for this feast, the Assumption of Mary, tells us that Our Lady St Mary was so completely surrendered to God through the circumstances of her life, that, by the end of it, she was ‘assumed’ or taken bodily up into heaven. Like the bread of the Eucharist, Mary had so abandoned herself to God’s love and will and purpose, that there was no longer any distance between Lover and beloved.

In Julian’s visions, when Jesus asked her if she desired to see Mary, she did not see her despite her desire, and understood later she was taught to desire to see “the virtues of her blessed soul—her truth, her wisdom, her love—whereby I can learn to know myself and reverently fear my God.” In her truth, her wisdom, and her love, Mary recognized her identity in God alone; she did not have to fashion it, only accept it, as one accepts being loved and cherished.

It takes a great deal of energy and resourcefulness to reinvent oneself over and over again. But it can take significantly more courage to stay in one place, physical or otherwise, and receive oneself as beloved, as Mary did.

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