The Lamenting Virgin is an ideal companion for the season of Lent. She mourns as we do - but deeper, fuller. Her empty arms wrapped around the Son she longs so much to hold. The Mother mourns what cannot be - it is a loss of something she never really had - for who can hold all of God? Strange to think that once she did. Once she had a child, a tiny son who nestled in that lonely space, but the dreams and hopes that mothers share, of the sweet potentiality in each child, that she never really had. He was something else entirely: "I had only streams of milk or tears to offer, and you were ever so much more than me." Something un-holdable, something set apart. And I think she knew, even then, that her arms would always be both empty and full.
My pain has been perfected and fills me up...
You became great,
and then you burst the rims of my heart
as a smarting too stark. .
no longer can I give to you
(Rainer Maria Rilke. From The Life of the Virgin Mary)