Shades of gray lie stroked by the winter sunshine. Wooden pews lined like soldiers, gleaming with lavender oil, creaking with age. The granite altar lies bare of ornament. There is no sound but my breathing. No color but from the windows, stained with pictures in garish colors.
She stands. Veiled in marble. Face soft and peaceful. Feet bare and elegant against her pedestal.
She is the essence of all I long for.
Her presence is a soft as a whisper, as loud as my heartbeat.
I bow my head, and I FEEL her. The smell of roses fill the air. Her veil makes a velvet sound as her arms come around my small and cold form.
She is. I know this, as much as I know I have hands. She is.
I have felt her since I could know love. I have seen her against the back of my closed eyelids countless times.
She has led me, haltingly and with terror, to God.
She has slipped my small and bloodstained hand, my ragged edged fingers, my perfectly manicured nails, my bare knuckles, my wedding ringed hand...all into His.
She has cradled me, held me, and wept with me.
She has seen me deny my belief. She has seen me turn my back.
And still she comes into my dreams of blood and screaming and brings the scent of roses.
She is at my back as I pray. She bows her head with mine.
She has watched as the void of mother has been filled by earthly women- Aunt, friends, mother in law.
She has always been the balm to my wounded child's heart.
Many nights I still dream of her. I walk, barefooted into a grotto of stone. Roses grow wild along every surface. It is twilight. My heart aches like an animal trapped in my chest. I long for things I don't even know have words. The deepest of primal things. The most sacred of bonds.
I long for mother.
And she is there. I run. I become smaller as I take each step, until I am Lily's age.
She does not smile. She only stares into my eyes. I feel known. I feel tears, hot and terrible at the knowing.
And after she looks at me, after she sees all that I am- every mistake and lie and sin, she opens her arms.
She wraps me in her arms and veil. I am encompassed by the oldest and deepest love I have ever known. One that recognizes that in the end I am only that small girl, staring up into her marble likeness and weeping bitter salt upon her feet.
Her head arcs into mine, placed softly onto my own. She rocks.
And when it is over, the tears and the need for her, she stands and takes my hand.
And together we go to God.
"O Mary, mystic rose, whose lovable heart, burning with the living fire of love, adopted us as thy children at the foot of the Cross, becoming thus our most tender Mother, make me experience the sweetness of thy motherly heart and the power of thine intercession with Jesus, in all the dangers that beset me during life, and especially at the dread hour of my death; in such wise may my heart be ever united to thine, and love Jesus both now and through endless ages. Amen "
Prayer of Intercession to the Immaculate Heart of Mary