What is The Mary Way Virtual Retreat?
The Mary Way is my personal retreat in the month of December. This year, I invite you along with me if you feel drawn to join me. You can come in at any time, participate on your own schedule, and at whatever depth feels right to you….
This retreat is free to join: Just sign up with your name and email address.
Donations are gratefully accepted though not required.
To register, sign up at the bottom of this page.
What does the Mary Way Virtual Retreat Involve?
The Mary Way Retreat will happen virtually during the month of December 2021 through a series of videos that I will make available to participants on a private YouTube channel. The Mary Way Retreat will also happen through Zoom, for those who care to be together in real time to pray, meditate, and create. Some gatherings will be scheduled, some impromptu. These are the scheduled Zoom meetings I know of right now:
- Monday Evenings 6-6:30 PM Pacific Time: Body Prayer with Angela and Jenny
- Wednesday Mornings 9:30-10AM Pacific Time: Heart of Mary Virtual Chapel for Prayer and Meditation with Angela (December 8, 15, 22nd and 29)
- Friday afternoons 3-5PM Pacific Time Creative Meditation with Angela (December 3, 10, 17, 24, and 31 from 3-5PM Pacific Time).
Who is Mary?
By Mary, yes, I mean Mother Mary. The young poor Jewish woman, who might have been called Miriam in her community, who later became the mother of Jesus/Yeshua, and who still later became a revered holy figure among Muslims.
This woman, who is known to me as Mary (because of my Christian roots), is in a sense a great unifying figure among the three dominant Western religious traditions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. But Mary does not confine herself to followers of these established religions. She has appeared throughout the ages to vulnerable peoples who are in need of comfort, miracles, and liberation from oppressive social orders. She reminds the vulnerable, the poor, and the oppressed of their human dignity. She offers herself as a Holy mother to a world in desperate need of nurture, healing, and repair.
Mary, known to Eastern Christians as Theotokos, Mother of God, harkens back to ancient Goddesses. Some believe she is one and the same person/presence of Isis and other ancient Goddesses who are often depicted in art with infant gods.
Mary is all of this and more. I have come to understand Mary as a personal spiritual mentor, a guide and Holy Mother, who makes herself available to those of us who are dedicated to children and other vulnerable people in a world that does not protect and honor them. Mary draws especially close in times and places where young people are under threat due to oppression systems and corruption among the powerful.
Who is Mary to me, Angela?
Mary appeared in my life in a surprising way at a moment when I was in deep, personal need. It was late October 2016, just before the U.S. presidential election that year, and I was desperately sick and in a very precarious position in terms of my rights and wellbeing as a mother. It was the most vulnerable I had ever felt. I was praying one morning in my art studio, as I always did early in the morning, and something different and surprising happened.
Mary entered the room; her presence was unmistakable. With my inner eye, I perceived her: her shape, and the presence emanating from her, her love and nurturing presence were all unmistakable. This was a surprising turn of events to me. I am protestant, and we protestants do not pray to Mary or expect her to make spiritual appearances in our lives! And yet here she was. She changed the whole atmosphere of the room. She changed me. Over the next months and years, her presence and her face and body-being became a refugee for me, so that I could continue to be a refuge for my child in a time when I needed a new level of support to be the parent I wanted to be.
Mary showed me what only a mother who has loved a child who has been brutalized by the social orders of the day can know: how to stay with open heart to become a place of refuge for a child that the world does not protect; how to be a space of belonging and healing for a child who would otherwise be ripped apart by circumstances of oppression and by the failure of systems to protect that child. Mary showed me how to take what life throws at us and re-weave it–in love–into a place of sanctuary for vulnerable humans. Mary showed me in my body how to receive and rest and surrender in ample doses, to build spiritual resilience: growing increasingly sensitive and sturdy, broken open yet enduring for the love of this child, and ultimately, for the love of all children (of all ages).
My journey with Mary is ongoing. Like many others who have been inspired by her presence to make art, I have painted her through the years. The above painting is one of my earliest Mary paintings, which I created in the throes of my most grueling season as a mother. Through painting and mixed media collage, I put the shreds of my life before her and asked for her presence to help me reorder the unthinkable, the disastrous, into a place of refuge for the vulnerable–in me, in my child, and in others.
My journey with Mary is something like a journey with a spiritual mentor. Even now, as I write about my story with her, she is here, changing the atmosphere of the room where I sit and write.
In December, during the season that we in my religious tradition call Advent, I make extra time and space to be touched and moved by Mary. I often create art with her, about her, in her atmosphere, which always points to a love far greater and more complete than even hers can embody: the great oneness, the ultimate being who my people call God. It is Mary, as I understand her, who has asked me to open the doors of my retreat to other who may want to join me this month.
Why a Mary Way Virtual Retreat?
I retreat with Mary because I still need her. I retreat with Mary because the world is not becoming less scary as a place to raise children; because I need her support to continue building the spiritual resilience I need to be the parent and leader I need to be in these time. I don’t know where the Mary Way will lead us. I make no promises. But I do know that when we call on her, when we orient ourselves to receive her nurture and her care, when we become open to participate in the creation of something new, things change and transformation happens. We will likely make art, meditate and pray, and use gentle practices to arrive more fully in our bodies, preparing ourselves to be met by the great Creator who is arriving anew in this moment, in this time and space, to create a new world order built on love and justice, not fear and violence.
The Mary Way is about making myself available, in the way that only Mary can show me, to become a living vessel for that new life, that new incarnation of Love being born anew, through each of us, out of the darkness of this season and out of the broken and vulnerable places in our lives.
Who is this for?
You do not need to be Jewish, Christian, or Muslim to join me. You do not need to be a person of faith at all. You only need to bring your desire and your openness to partici[pate in Love’s new arrival in the world, on behalf of the vulnerable in you, in your family, and in our world.