Thursday, July 17, 2008

Nursing Madonna shocks and inspires

An unusual statuette of Mary breastfeeding the baby Jesus shocked some with its nudity, but inspired the faith of others, including Atlanta writer Trudie Barreras. She submitted the photo above and the following story about this “marvelously sensitive and realistic perspective of the mother of Jesus.” The Jesus in Love Blog is sharing Barreras’ moving and important materials here because we support art that seeks to embody spirituality.

By Trudie Barreras

My husband Ray and I made a trip to Monterrey, Mexico in December of 2001, traveling by bus because we were disgusted with all the “security frenzy” that had gripped air travel in the aftermath of 9/11. The trip, even though via “express” buses, was a grueling 26 hours, and we arrived at our destination, the MCC church in Monterrey, quite worn out.

Shortly thereafter, I discovered a little statuette of Mary riding donkey-back and nursing the infant Jesus. This statue was in a “Christmas market” that specialized in figurines for the Nativity scenes that are very much a part of the Mexican culture. Most of the other figures were much more “traditional.” Indeed, this one was completely unique, representing a “perspective” I’d never seen before. Gazing at the face of the Mother, I was gripped by the thought: “This is Reality.” I reflected on my own extreme exhaustion after a 26-hour trip in a relatively comfortable bus, and wondered how a woman could have carried a nursing infant all the way from Israel to Egypt.

I felt it was very important to obtain this statuette, and bring her back to Atlanta to share with the various spiritual communities of which I am a part, including First Metropolitan Community Church of Atlanta and the Excel retreat ministry in which I participate. I christened her “Our Lady of Travels to Life with Reality,”or, in Spanish, “Nuestra Señora de los Viajes á la Vida con Realidad.” I believe that others who meditate on the meaning portrayed by this representation may experience some of the same thoughts that have come to me. There is, of course, much more to this story, and anyone who wants to dialog with me about it is welcome to contact me by e-mail at:

Sadly, when I attempted to share “Our Lady of Travels” with my own community at First MCC of Atlanta by placing the statue in our small meditation chapel, someone was apparently offended by the breast-feeding, and fashioned a “poncho” for her out of Kleenex! My pastor regretfully suggested that I should probably take her home. Fortunately, most of the other venues to which I have brought this marvelously sensitive and realistic perspective of the mother of Jesus seem to have responded with a sense of blessing and not of shock.

1 comment:

Yvonne said...

Er, well obviously Mary would have breastfed Jesus.

The style's a bit kitschy, but I think Mary should be celebrated as a real woman.

MCC people shocked by breastfeeding? Oh please! Is there no refuge for sanity in the Christian community???