Now that I have music from the King and I running through my head, I'd like to begin this post by saying that I have intending to talk about my topic for a while now, but just haven't had the chance yet.
When we started this journey six months ago one of the most uncomfortable aspects of Orthodoxy was the whole Mary thing, followed closely by icons and saints in general. I once played the part of Mary in a Christmas pageant. My role consisted of walking demurely across the stage, and sitting beside a token pile of straw while the choir sang and an angel pantomimed to Joseph behind me. And, like most protestants, my church growing up had plain walls (except for the occasional wreath around Christmas), a bare cross up front (sometimes) and not much else in the way of depictions. Aside from occasional references to C.S. Lewis or a nice quote from Mother Theresa, the only people we quoted were in the bible or the latest Christian author.
Needless to say, I was starting from scratch, and skeptical and suspicious scratch at that.
As the months have passed however, I have had the opportunity to get to know a number of saints, as well as the Theotokos. I say "get to know", but I feel like my relationship with these people is analogous to being introduced to people at a dinner party. I know their names, and a bit of background, and I think we'll get along prodigiously, but we haven't actually spent a lot of time together yet. Of course, the process of getting to know a saint is a bit backwards from getting to know a live person: instead of starting with small talk and working back into their history, you start with their history and work up to small talk and normal conversations.
There are a number of saints that I've had this sort of connection to, namely Christina, and Ruth, but I've felt this most with the Theotokos. Perhaps it's because I felt close to her through my pregnancy, or maybe its because she knew how weirded out I was with the idea of her identity as Theotokos and all the reverence she is given for that and has graciously helped me out. Either way, whenever I hear a story of a miracle that's attributed to her, or how she's stepped into someone's life I find myself thinking "That sounds like something she would do" the same way you hear about a sibling or a friend and say "that's so them." I'm getting to know her character, her manner. I haven't had any crazy supernatural encounter, like St. Mary of Egypt or St. Silouan of Mt. Athos, but I can say that I know her. It's like we're facebook friends, and we're planning on getting together in real life, but haven't yet, but we know we will.
It just occurred to me that this whole entry may come across as rather irreverent. Perhaps the idea of being friends with the Mother of God is ridiculous. If so, feel free to chuck this whole thing in the "crazy convert" bin, I'll figure it out eventually.