A Story of Mother Mary I Could Believe
The woman who was Mary knew things.
She knew, for example, that her life was not hers. It was only the shadow of a life. And like all shadows it was meant to disappear.
In this way, of course, she was like every other woman.
In her day women were like the fields men plowed with their seeds. Like the forests men cut down for lumber to make floors to walk on, tables to eat from, or chests to store their secrets inside. Only the lucky ever opened their wings and became the birds men caught and kept in coops—the prettiest flew around in aviaries but only when they were young and had all their feathers, their throats still full of summer song.
But Mary was not destined to become a field or forest or bird.
Born too poor to have a dowry, she had no prospects or money with which to purchase a spouse. Local boys teased her, circling, and calling her names. Some threw stones when she walked past. Other saw her as a practice girl, a pussy on legs, like the sheep or goats in the pasture who were not quick enough to escape.
When she prayed for help, God gave her the silent treatment. After a while, she gave it back. Sometimes she felt as bodiless as a dream. Things passed through her—insects, thoughts, men, rain. She barely noticed.
The only request she ever made of God then: Please, don’t make me pregnant. I who have no flesh or shelter to call my own or rest inside. But we know how that went. And how Joseph, her only friend and fellow outcast, a gay man and lovely as a toucan, took her in.
If God is a man, Mary thought, let him be a gay man. Someone who might begin to understand. Who knows the way the body wishes even when it’s abused, beaten, and spat upon.
God answered her prayers. And gave her the son who grew up to travel the streets of Galilee and beyond with his rare gifts and his harem of handsome apostles, each more smitten with him than the next.
Of course, the Bible says he was the Son of man. (Son of man? Mary shook her head and sighed.) It also says she was a virgin, a woman without sin. Like a piece of unlined paper or a book with no words inside.
It does not describe the unwed, poverty-stricken mother of a bastard. A single woman and a child who lived in caves and survived by foraging for edible flowers, leaves, and berries after the spring rains, by netting fish on hot summer days, harvesting olives and almonds before winter set in. A mother who told her boy that God was his father whenever he asked where and who his daddy is.
She wasn’t the first mother to believe her son divine. He was the first person to listen to her.