Mother of Tenderness
Letter from Shana Llorando
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I am writing this letter on the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, which is fitting for what I’d like to share (praise God!). May Our Lady be with us and intercede for us!
There is a piece of religious art by Tommy Canning that is part of a little altar in my room; it is called ‘Mother of Tenderness’, a depiction of Mother Mary carrying the child Jesus. There are many of images like this, but this particular piece caught my attention because of how realistic it looked. More importantly, it struck me how Jesus looked in being held; so vulnerable, helpless...but also, content, cherished and delighted in. Mother Mary carries Him with the utmost tenderness and love. Upon looking at this image, it hit me; if we are all called to be like Christ, that must mean we are also called to be vulnerable and not only that, but to be held by Mary.
I’m learning this very lesson in a year which has already been marked with big changes; I’ve started a new job, turned 25, moved out of (and back) home, and while these milestones mark the beginnings of ‘adulthood’, I’ve felt like a child. For someone who defined success as ‘having it all together’, I’ve felt so overwhelmed by these transitions, steep learning curves and mistakes made. This definition of success has been swept away with the changing waves, leaving me stripped and asking God who I really am at my core; who am I when I don’t have it all together? Who am I when I’ve failed and feel lost? Who am I when I cannot prop myself up to stand on my own two feet, sitting in confusion and fear of the future?
The image of the ‘Mother of Tenderness’ reminds me that Mary is there in the midst of the chaos. She is my gentle mother, guiding me through every moment, especially the tough ones. In learning about her, she has taught me to say ‘yes’ to God’s will, even if it means saying ‘yes’ to uncertainty. She has taught me the posture of vulnerability and trust, letting go of my plans and leaning into God’s providence, the way she did all her life. More importantly, she has shown me my identity as she holds me with tenderness, the way she holds her Son. My identity is ‘daughter’, one who is held. Because when I unclench my fists from holding on for dear life and open my palms to whatever God wills, I realize that I AM held. I am held by the support and prayers of my brothers and sisters, held by my Mother, held by my Good, Good Father. And I think this is one lesson Jesus teaches us in His humility, God becoming man, God becoming…child. Jesus let Himself be held, let Himself be vulnerable so that the Father could be glorified.
And that is how we are to glorify God. We are to live our identity as delighted-in-daughters who, with innocence and trust say ‘yes’ to their Father because they love Him and know that He loves them and only wills their good. We are to let Him work through and redeem our brokenness, our incapability and our weakness. We are to float with palms and hearts open on Mary our mother, our river of grace, as she leads us to her Son, the Ocean of Mercy.
Sisters, we are to let ourselves be held, and what good news that is – because there is no better or safer place there is than to be in the tender arms of God and Mary.
Love and prayers,
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Hi! I'm Shana Llorando and I'm a 25 year old living in (and falling in love with) Auckland, New Zealand. I am currently a Tertiary Chaplain and I also write, record and perform music under the moniker 'Valere'. Christ, creativity and community are my passions; you can find me delving into one or more of the mentioned...oh and I forgot - coffee! I'm an INFJ, quality-time-loving, drawn-by-God-through-goodness, basketball-watching, currently-blue-haired daughter of the King who is trying her best to walk the path to sainthood.
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