November 21, 2005

Fictional Monday
Hank Keller grew up in a Roman Catholic home where devotion to the Blessed Mother was in the very air they breathed. He felt especially close to her because he was especially close to his own mother. A mama's boy he was, so the inclination was natural.

He said the rosary through fierce distractions, some so annoying that he would clench the beads in self-disgust and tears would form: "I will not be lukewarm!" he muttered, "anything but lukewarm!"

Years passed and he went away to school and his relationship with the Virgin seemed to alter. She seemed less his mother than his chaste girlfriend and he purchased a small picture of a fresh-faced Mary, looking not unlike the girl next door. They would go together through this relentless storm of adolescence, this constant struggle for acceptance.

Time passed and the gap between his experiences and that of his friends widened. He remembers asking, with some bitterness, why she did so little to help him. "Do you even appreciate what I'm doing? A virgin when everyone else is having sex?" The silence seemed deafening, impervious as he was to the irony, or perhaps he couldn't listen for the blood that beat at his temples. Battles were won but mostly lost.

He came back to her, but this time his perception was not one of girlfriend or mother but of wonderment at the great esteem all the great figures of Christendom paid her. "Who are you Mary?" he asked instead of "Who are you for me?". He took down his old picture of Mary's sweet, Western, girl-next-door face and hung the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This seemed of more historical value, more of who Mary is, a way to get closer to who she is if not in body then in spirit.

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