The Virgin Mary, like many women, is injured and in need of repair.
The Mary in front of me was once part of an 8-foot wooden santo from a turn-of-the-century church in Cebu, Philippines. All that is left of her now is her head.
The task I’ve been given is to repair her nose, which was damaged in her journey here. I try to contemplate the exposed white wound on the tip of Mother Mary’s nose but her eyes, brimming with compassion and just a little sadness, stare poignantly at me, as if she wants to tell me something. What those eyes must have seen in a hundred years! Several tubes of Golden acrylic paint and a squirrel brush sit expectantly on the table next to me, but I’m wondering how this trauma might have happened, and whether it’s right to cover up a scar that was honestly earned.
I shake my head and begin mixing the paint.
All at once, the room darkens and the skylight shudders. I glance up. Big, black storm clouds are roiling above me and the wind answers, rumbling and roaring.
Cautiously, tenderly, I begin to dress the saint’s abrasion. Could it be?–she seems grateful.
It occurs to me that I am tending to Mary just as I tend to my dear friend, or myself. I am healing her wounds and mine at the same time.
A bolt of lightning ignites the sky, and a few seconds later, thunder cracks loudly in reply. Fat raindrops begin to pelt the roof. Suddenly, my hands are confident and the brush seems to know exactly what to do.