I was watching one of those edgy-California-biker-gang meets modern family series on cable. It's amazing where you find insights into womanhood...and where you see Mary.
The matriarch of the lead biker gang is a hardened, wiry woman with a gift for keeping her mouth shut and her eyes wide open. At one point in the series is she is brutally attacked. The psychological and emotional stress wears on her, until she loses a sense of her identity.
She begins to open her heart to a God she never believed in, in small but significant ways. On a smoke break, she has a casual converation with a priest who tells her that the point of life and the way to survive the feeling of self-loathing that is borne from trauma, is to live a life of service to others.
Finally, in one striking scene, she is in a car with her son's girlfriend. It's an old car with a plastic Blessed Mother taped to the dashboard. The woman begins to reflect on God, Catholicism, and identity. And pulling the small plastic figure off the dash, she says: I know my identity. I am supposed to be a Fierce Mother.
Now, maybe you're thinking - what does this Biker Mom have to do with motherhood, with Mary? But I was thinking : yes! yes! You understand her! You understand who Mary is and what she did... she said yes under impossible odds and opened her heart to others. She lived her whole being in yes to others, in service, pure gift. And Fierce she is. The Snake-slayer, the bearer of Salvation. The woman whose heart was pierced with swords is the perfect model for this woman whose heart had been brutalized... And though the biker mom certainly is no Mary, still, her own sense of identity and the restoration in a sense, of her womanhood, comes from a small yet driving connection to the Fierce Mother of God.
In this metaphor we can see ourselves. Women who are far off track, or perhaps just in pain... women who are burdened with our own sins or wearing those of others... women whose hearts are heavily protected - maybe not with leather and guns - but with the emotional equivalent. And we, too, can find something right in Mary that we desire to be - a deeper identity that goes beyong leather or lace or veils or boots. This is the essence of womanhood, and it is motherhood - that gift particular to women to know, to heal, to bear and to nuture the other.
Beyond our own toughness and scars, we find a Woman who bears them too. But filled with the grace of the Spirit, she points us back beyond those things to who we truly are and can be. And her fierce motherhood is not only our model, but our protection in time of stress and trouble, and astonishingly, our hope.