Tag Archives: catholic

Mary, Help of Kitchens

Mary Statue

I have a Mary in my kitchen.

Mary Statue

Isn’t she lovely?

I didn’t mean to make my first “God in the Mess” post about Mary.  I can’t imagine many of the people out there who read this are Catholic (well, Mum is) and I figure I’m pushing the boundaries enough, writing a ‘God’ post without coming out of the closet as a full-blown Catholic.  But here we are.  I have a Mary in my kitchen.

I know we’re talking about a piece of ceramic, here.   I don’t get all superstitious about it and bring her cups of tea or rub her head for good luck or anything.  But she’s there as a reminder.

Contrary to popular belief, we Catholics don’t worship Mary as a god.  We just really, really admire her.  She’s a good role model, I guess.  I had some vague idea that when I was in the kitchen at five o’clock, about to whack some one or other of my offspring with a saucepan (possibly because they burnt the roast, destroyed the laundry or were considering vegetarianism), I would stop, look at Mary, take a deep breath and put the saucepan down.

I was so excited when I first bought my Kitchen Mary.  It was exactly what I was looking for: simple yet special, traditional yet different.  Even so, when I first got home, I didn’t rush to the kitchen straight away.  Mary spent a lot of time in the plastic bag from the piety stall, wrapped in old parish bulletins.  You see, I wanted to wait until the kitchen was sparkling clean before I put Mary in it.  But setting to and cleaning the kitchen isn’t a straightforward task when you have little ones.  There are nappies and spills and bandaids and bath time and the kitchen mess remains.  Then it hit me (the profound thought, I mean, not the kitchen mess – though it WAS piled precariously high…): the thing I was doing with the Mary statue in my kitchen was exactly what I was doing with God in my life.

You see, I do want God in my life.  I’m sold on that point.  I’m a much better person, much more myself and I make much better decisions when I feel close to God.  But I’ve been keeping God out, just the same.  I guess, in the back of my mind I figured I’d become all spiritual when I “had it all together” or when I “had time to pray”.  It was like it was on my to-do list right next to “clear out the linen cupboard” or “tidy the random drawer”: we both know these things are never going to happen.

But God doesn’t want the perfect versions of ourselves.  God embraces our broken-ness and meets us in the mess.  So, with this in mind, I put Mary in the kitchen, mess and all.  The woman gave birth in a cattle shed, I’m sure she can cope.  You might be asking “Why Mary?  Why not a picture of God?”, well that brings me back to that thing I was saying about Mary being a role model.  I need to let God meet me in the mess and Mary was really good at doing that.  She changed baby Jesus’ nappies as a refugee in Egypt, and had to watch him die, naked and nailed to a tree, when he was an adult.   These situations weren’t tidy.  And she didn’t always have it all together (losing child in temple, anyone?) but she always let God in.

Plus, I don’t really like pictures of God.  They make him look all strange and beard-y.  Like Santa Claus on steroids.

So here’s my Kitchen-Mary in a candid shot (taken before I cleaned up the kitchen for the glamour shots above).

Mary in the Mess

Our Lady of the Sausages, pray for us in our hour of need.

Kate Is Special

Just thought I’d share:

In the ‘recently deceased’ section of the parish notices last week, I read that longstanding parishioner Karen Appleby had died and there was a big funeral for her this week.  I didn’t know Karen at all but I knew Bill Appleby to be a tall, older fellow who I’d often see about the place.  I would nod at him and say “Bill.”  and he would nod back rather aloofly and this was the full extent of our relationship.

When I spoke to another parishioner about Karen and Bill, she said that they had lost a child many years ago and did a lot of ministry for parents who had lost children.  My heart went out to Bill and I realised why he sometimes seemed rather distant.

At Mass this morning, I saw him.  I always feel awkward in this kind of situation, but I know Mum’s always said it’s better to say something than to avoid the person and make them feel even worse.  I also knew from experience that it’s better to say something sooner rather than later because it will only get more awkward.

At the morning tea after Mass I found myself side by side with the man in question so I seized my opportunity.  I turned to him, gave him a little hug and said “Bill, I’m so sorry about Karen”

In the moments that followed, I discovered the following useful facts:

  • Karen wasn’t actually his wife
  • His wife is still alive and at home at the moment
  • This man was not Bill Appleby
  • This man’s name was Brian

I also discovered:

  • There may be another reason why this man was so unresponsive when I called him ‘Bill’ all these years
  • Sometimes ‘sooner rather than later’ does not avoid an awkward situation if soon is too soon to confirm a positive ID

He was really quite gentle and lovely about it.  It was like he wished he could be Bill for my sake but he could not escape the fact that he was in fact Brian and he did indeed have a live wife.

Whatever.  Just tell Bill I said hi.