Friday, March 7, 2014

Lenten Icons

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) 


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks!

      Seth is sketching Icon-inspired cards, and he did one of the Lamenting Virgin..I started reading Rilke's God-poems again..and, yeah, I think most of Lent is going to be series' of reflections..

      I LOVE this icon so much! For me it's such a reminder of the strange line Mary walks, there's always the talk of her being both Virgin and Mother, but we don't always reflect on the fact that she's is also, at once holding her own child, and eternally empty-armed..because her motherhood is so completely Other - a constant, perfected, and painful emptiness.. if that's not too sad of a reflection. :( And with those empty arms she's able to love in a better, more encompassing way than a mother usually can - with the sort of mother-love that is more common to religious communities..I feel like I could fold myself up into her arm a sleep the heavy, child-sleep for hours and hours.

    2. That was so much longer and more reflective than I'd intended..Sorry!

    3. No need to apologize; that was beautiful, too. :)