A Mary Moment Monday post

We were driving from the airport in Albuquerque, New Mexico, up through the mountains to Los Alamos. My husband (who was then just a really committed boyfriend) looked at me and said, a bit shocked, “You never told me it was beautiful.”

To an Ohio girl (or guy, for that matter), the mountains of northern New Mexico, with their soaring height and expanse of flatness, are quite a sight. The New Mexico color palette is quite a bit different, too, and in mid-July, it’s more brown than green.

My aunt says she’s always shocked by the brightness when she comes back to Ohio.

That first visit to New Mexico was something. I first went out west following my college graduation, and I think, looking back, that I found God there.

As I hiked with my uncle and talked philosophy with my aunt, I found myself cheerfully small. I looked around at the great monolithic stone structures, felt the burn of the different altitude, experienced the dryness in the air, and it was more than I could explain.

It’s still more than I can explain.

When my husband was finally able to join me in a visit out west, he saw at once the many factors that contributed to my crush on New Mexico. The sky! The mountains! The atmosphere!

All that…and more.

I think of the feeling of driving up the road up the side of a mesa when I see pictures of the shrine to Mary in Montserrat, Spain. The rock is pale and reaching up, up, up. The shrine seems to be almost carved from it.

And then there’s the statue.

She’s black from all the candles that have burned before her. That black represents the people coming to her, pleading for her help, asking for her to look on them and remember them to her Son.

They go to this place of beauty, to the Woman of Beauty. Mothers always have a beauty that their children appreciate more than anyone else, and Mary’s no different.

This statue may not look like much, and the miracles attributed to it may be legends. But I’m inspired by the color, by the faith of centuries of people before me.

I love the quote of one historian about this image:

“In all ages the sinful, the suffering, the sorrowful, have laid their woes at the feet of Our Lady of Montserrat, and none have ever gone away unheard or unaided.” [source]

Our Lady of Montserrat will surely be on my mind the next time we travel out west. I have no idea when that will be (though I always hope it will be soon), but there’s no hurry. The beautiful vistas aren’t going anywhere and my experience will be sweeter for having waited to savor it.

She’s also a reminder that nothing is too small, nothing too mundane, nothing too inconsequential, to take to Mary. When I feel like I’m climbing mountains to get through my day or to deal with a particular challenge, I’ll turn to Our Lady of Montserrat. That’s Jesus on her lap, after all, and if she can hold him, I can at least sit down for a chat.

Further reading:

statue image credit: University of Dayton