The editors of the December 2015 edition of National Geographic Magazine presented Mary (the mother of Jesus) as a spiritual guide for billions of Christians (and some non-Christians also). Intriguingly, she is mentioned 34 times in the Islamic Holy Book, the Quran, which is more than she is mentioned in the Holy Bible. In addition to her Biblical connection with Jesus, the Quran supports the traditional historical contention that she was his mother and therefore considered one of the most righteous women in Islam.
Whether Mary is “the most powerful woman in the world” is debatable. However, what is not debatable is that she is the most important female in the Christmas Story and thus the most noteworthy woman to have lived on Earth. There are thousands of shrines or sacred places created in her honor. Thousands of people claim to have seen apparitions of her and numerous people claim to have conversations with her. She has been honored by maybe billions of statues, statuettes, icons, paintings, mosaics and stained glass images. Each year, 1 million people from diverse faiths, ethnicities and nationalities visit the statue of Mary at Medjugorje, Bosnia/Herzegovina.
Many years ago, I learned that there are countless “Mary Shrines” erected on the vast trail network of the European Alps. Shortly after that discovery, I received a postcard from an ex-student featuring one of these shrines. The message was poignant, terse and soulful.
“Hi, Mr. Young: I was hiking high up in the French Alps when I came to this shrine. There was a bench, stone marker and rustic cross. As I was resting, the beauty of the alpine scenery suddenly overwhelmed me. And then, I was shocked by a wonderful epiphany; the whole year of Biodesign made sense! Hugs, ‘K.’”
I have no explanation for what happened to “K,” but I think that most people would describe it as a minor miracle.
This harkens back to Loren Eiseley, one of the preeminent anthropologists of the 20th century. In his splendid book, “The Immense Journey,” he wrote:
“The reader who would pursue such a journey with me is warned that the essays in this book have not been brought together as a guide, but are offered rather as a somewhat unconventional record of the prowlings of one mind which has sought to explore, to understand, and enjoy the miracles of this world, both in and out of science.”
As a highly learned anthropologist, Eiseley was well aware of countless “miracles” like the one that “K” experienced. Furthermore, when he described himself as “pressing his hands against the confining walls of the scientific method,” he conceded that many of these mysteries are beyond the grasp of scientists.
Christ’s healing power and of course the Mother and the power of her intercession.”
As evidence of this, he wrote elsewhere:
“ … whether we speak of a God come down to earth or a man inspired toward God and betrayed upon a cross, the dream was great, and shook the world like a storm. I believe in Christ in every man who dies to contribute to a life beyond his life. I believe in Christ in all who defend the individual from the iron boot of the extending collective state … ”
Although I understand the Geographic editor’s noble intentions of their feature article on Mary, I doubt that if she were living she would consider herself as the “Most Powerful Woman in the World.” Still, she seemed to be well aware of the fact that she had been singled out as utterly unique to human history.
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.”
Wishing you a Merry Christmas.
Author; Lowell H. Young is a St. Helena resident and author of “Biodesign Out For A Walk.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org