On the way home from a walk or run, I’ll often stop at the statue of Mary in front of our neighborhood chapel and pray. If I stand in front of her, I put my hands in hers as I ask for her intercession on my two children. I pray that she will be a mother to them in all the places I can’t go, which is most everywhere, but really in their minds, bodies, and spirits as they are out there in the world. I visualize her right hand on my son’s right shoulder, standing behind him, guiding him to God. I see her left hand on my daughter’s right shoulder, showing her the face of Love. It’s a whole thing. I imagine the passersby on the busy college campus probably think I’m crazy, and they may be right. But she’s a Mom, and so am I, so I imagine she gets it.
When I sit on one of two benches there that a fine young man installed as part of his Eagle Scout project, my prayer takes on a different character. It’s more relaxed and conversational. I might put on some music to help me sit and listen and connect to where God is leading me on that day. Sometimes, I’ll close my eyes and try to meditate. Closing my eyes is helpful, really, because there is so much happening right in that part of campus that could be distracting. Also, when I open my eyes, this is my view:
It’s a serpent with his mouth wide open, ready to bite or swallow me whole. And it’s scary, really, and makes me want to turn my head away. It’s true that in this broken world, there is so much that would seek to destroy us. You just need to watch the news for five minutes to see how off its axis the world feels today; how leaders in every arena consistently shirk their responsibilities and lie to promote their own power, how our priorities have gone so awry, how clouded even the most basic sense of morality has become. Like a snake who has slithered its way into every facet of culture and stands poised to strike, we’ve allowed a darkness to permeate, and our truths to shift like sand. That’s dramatic, I know, but how can anyone with open eyes deny it?
Still, we’re not without hope. As I remember to look up, I see Mary’s face, a beautiful blue sky, and the end of the story: her foot on the head of the snake. There is so much happening in and around us that we can’t see, and the spiritual battle that is taking place today is at the top of the list. It feels like good versus evil everywhere you look these days, and it can feel like evil is winning, especially when you’re giving it your full attention on the screens that bombard us. Looking up is medicine for our sick souls, it’s needed perspective and the building up of our faith. We know the end of the story, after all. We know Who wins. And we know where to look, to bring peace and restoration to our roiling spirits, when everything feels out of control. We can look to our Mother, to God, to the sky that shifts and changes as it tells of glory. We can look at the buds on otherwise bare trees that hold the promise of green, of spring, of new life and rebirth. We can feel the sun on our faces and breathe it in as we get the whole picture. We can choose where we place our gaze, and that could make all the difference.
It’s time, don’t you think? Look up.