Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Why is the Black Madonna Important for Our Age?

Our Lady of Czestochowa, Poland

“Art is the creation of organs through which the gods are able to speak to humanity.” 

Rudolf Steiner, The Influence of Spiritual Beings on Man

The Black Madonna of Le Puy, France

With this quote in mind, I asked repeatedly, what are the images of the Black Madonna saying to us? 

Recently in Orange County California a replica of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa Poland was brought to a local parish.  The Priest accompanying the image across the continent spoke of the nature of Icons. Icons, he said, are windows into the Spiritual World. In the Byzantine Catholic tradition, confession is said kneeling before an Icon with a Priest present. 

The timing at which the Black Madonna's began appearing is significant in many ways. While the benevolent Spiritual World has granted and respects Humanity's freedom, The Divine knows our positive and negative capabilities. Many of the narratives of the major Black Madonna's come around the time when the organized Church negated the Human Spirit. In the Council of Constantinople of 869, it became heresy to teach or write of the nature of the Human Spirit. A dampening of the conscious connection with the Spiritual World happened after this event, as the schools and teachers that taught of a living connection with the Christ were silenced. Could the Black Madonna's of that age be countering this message of separation from the Divine, this clouding of consciousness? 

The Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico

The most famous of the so called Black Madonna's of the Americas is The Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico. Guadalupe is considered a Black Madonna because she is Mestizo in her presentation, she looks mixed European and Native and has brown skin. She appeared to a Nahuatl Native from December 9th through the 12th, 1531. Her final appearance was to Bishop Juan de Zumarraga and his entourage at his residence, when Juan Diego (the Native to whom the Virgin had been appearing the preceding days) came to the Bishop with her message, mid morning on the 12th of December, 1531. She left physical evidence of her apparition on the Tilma (a poncho like shawl of the Native style of the day.) This Tilma pictured above is still on display at the Basilica that bears her name, nearly 500 years later.

The Conquest of Mexico by Spain began in 1519. Spain had bankrolled Columbus's Journey in 1492, the same year she had expelled the Muslims and Jews from her land. These groups were given an option, to convert, to leave or to die. Many converted and were called "Conversos", many more left heart broken to have been expelled from their homes, and many were killed as a lesson to anyone who dared to challenge the authority of the Crown. For the first time in Western History there was a dawning of a organized, state sanctioned persecuting society. This cultural outlook was taken with the Conquistadors as they ventured to distant shores in search of riches and power the so called "New World" could offer them. Centuries of subjugation of the Spaniards to the Moors from the Arab and African worlds created a back lash towards anyone who had dark skin. One only has to read the history books to know what the consequences were for the brown skinned natives of the Americas.

It is significant, as with the Black Madonna's appearing in the 9th Century, that Guadalupe appeared when she did. Her main message was of cooperation between the Europeans and Natives. She announces her self as "The Mother of All Who Love Me." and urges the Natives to work with the Spanish to build a new civilization based on the universal principle of Love.

Bishop Juan de Zumaragga of New Spain, the First Archbishop of Mexico 1468-1548

What was also significant was that Bishop Zumaragga had his hand in a very important deed of the Church at that time. But the deed was half done, and our world, especially in the United States is still reverberating with the consequences. 

The Catholic Church at the time of Guadalupe was reeling from the Reformation. Nearly 7 million people left the Roman Church or Protestantism. The violence and wars from this split left deep wounds on the continent. With the prospect of new lands, the Catholic Church was anxious to start evangelization of the American continent. The secular leaders were vicious towards the Natives. The Nahuatls were imprisoned, enslaved, raped and killed through violence and exposure to the diseases the Europeans brought. So vile was the treatment of the natives, that the Church tried to intervene on their behalf. Interdicts, excommunications were rallied at the Spanish conquerors who violated the Natives. In turn, the clergy were persecuted and imprisoned, often violently, by the secular authorities. Before the apparition of Guadalupe, there was revolution in the air against the vastly outnumbered Europeans. Zumaragga wrote to Charles V, saying that if there was not a miracle, the entire continent would be lost.

After the Guadalupe event, the impression left on the natives was one of awe and desire to be part of the new civilization. Guadalupe spoke as a Codice of building a new kingdom of love on Earth. The Natives who felt abandoned by the Spiritual World, now had material proof of the love the Spiritual World had for them. In the decade following the Apparition, 9 million documented conversions through Baptisms were recorded. While the Natives voluntarily converted to Christianity because of Guadalupe, the Spaniards were not as amicable to the upset of their economic system. Slavery is very lucrative, because the cost of labor is quite low. So terrible was the treatment of the Natives that Zumaragga intervened. With several of his colleagues, Zumaragga drafted a letter to Pope Paul III. Until this time, Western Civilization only recognized three races of people, Europeans, Asians and Africans. Zumaragga argued that the Native Americans were people worthy of Evangelization and the Christ, and should not be enslaved. The Pope agreed and proclaimed through a Papal Bull called Sublimus Dei, that strictly forbade the enslavement of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas. Unfortunately, the Africans did not receive such recognition of their humanity, and the slave trade flourished until the 19th Century with Imperial and Papal blessings. In many ways, in the America's this history of Slavery still haunts us to this day. 

It is profound that Guadalupe in her invitational and respectful presence implores different races of people to work together to build a temple for "all who love her." We often forget that Colonial Mexico was a multi racial community with African, European and Native peoples. Modern technology shows us the reflection of those who witnessed her last Apparition at the Bishops Residence. In magnified pictures of Guadalupe's eyes, we see a woman with an Afro Hair style. We know that Zumaragga had an African Woman as his house servant. 

The Virgin of Guadalupe appeared to all of the races that were living in Mexico at the time. With her mixed racial expression, she shows that the Divine is present in all peoples. Guadalupe came right at the end of the Conquest of Mexico during the terrible genocide of the Natives. She also came at the beginning of the transatlantic Slave trade, and the Bishop who witnessed her tried and succeeded in a large part to have personhood recognized by secular and religious institutions alike. She came as a counter to the materialistic zeal that labeled some people as valuable and others not based on the color of their skin.

The Black Madonna of Dorres, France

While not glossing over the terrible injustices experienced by the Native Peoples of North America, in many ways the fate of the Africans forced onto the plantations was worse. They were captured and taken away from their homelands. Their families were torn apart through auction, the women endured rape and forced impregnation to create more workers on the farms. The savage beatings and poor labor conditions were often coupled with what we should call pogroms. Lynchings were common, even after slavery was abolished in 1863. While not as rampant as before, a type of lynching still exists through the unequal killing of Black Men by authorities and racist cults masquerading as political movements. 

The Black Madonna of Marsat, France

After each murder, the authorities excuse it through justification, as if the person asked for it in some way. 

Each and every time this happens, the message received by the community who was wronged is; your children are not as valuable as others, you are not part of the culture, your sorrows are not valid.

Juan Diego tried to pass off the task given to him by the Virgin, saying that he was unworthy. He felt this way because the culture of the day told him his life was nothing, his culture and ways were inferior and the God he was presented with looked alien to his people. Guadalupe spoke to him telling him he was a treasured child of God, that he was worthy and capable of great things. She was speaking to all those who feel abandoned and neglected, when she spoke to Juan.

In so many ways the Spiritual World, the Gods speak to humanity through art. When we ponder the Black Madonna's and the Virgin of Guadalupe, so many messages come to us from these 'Windows to the Spiritual World." If you visit the shrines to the Black Madonna's, it is profound to watch people with dark skin flock to the images. When the dominant culture harms and excludes people who are different, a deep wound results, a wound that can be carried for generations. Deep in our cells, we know we are connected, we long for communion with others. The Black Madonna's present Divinity in ways that include, that represent all of Humanity. The defining quality that the Virgin of Guadalupe proclaims that we must have to be part of the New Civilization her image symbolizes, is a love for the Divine. It is powerful to see how these images came into being as a healing counter influence to the damaging materialistic and racist zeal of which modern civilization is capable.

As Mary proclaimed in the Magnificat, the Divine through Christ was coming to tear apart worldly power.

Luke 1:46 - 53

46 And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
    For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
    and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
    and the rich he has sent away empty.

The trappings of Earthly power, wealth, class, race, gender, have no place in the universal equality of the Christ. The Black Madonna's speak to us of this fact. In these days of sorrow, of so many of God's Children feeling that they are unimportant, expendable and undesirable, let us reach out to one another, hear the stories of pain, and be inspired to remind those who have searing tragedy in their lives that they are wanted, they are loved, and their place in our human community is necessary in order to build the New Civilization of Love. 

Let those of us who's ancestors perpetrated oppression, who's peers benefit from oppression, ask to hear the perspective of those who have been harmed. Listen, and ask for forgiveness, even if the sin was not committed by you, for that is the first step in healing. The cycle can be broken, all it takes is for one person to break it. Will it be you? What is the Spiritual World saying to you through the Madonna's?

For me, they are saying: "You humans, all of you come from Divinity, you are made of the substance of the Stars, and to Divinity you will return. Until that time, create the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth with your thoughts, your feelings and your will, so all of God's creatures can feel part of the Beloved Community." 

This is the most important thing we can do for our current age.

Members of The Beloved Community of  Ferguson, Missouri working to heal the damage in the aftermath of the unrest in response to the shooting death of Michael Brown

Saturday, August 9, 2014

What in the World is Happening?

Icon with the Virgin and Child, about A.D. 1175–1200, Kastoria, Greece;

It has been a very disconcerting time in the world these days. No corner on Earth is at peace. There is a website that lists all the conflict zones, aptly named "Wars in the World." http://www.warsintheworld.com/ According to the August updates, there are currently 62 nations on Earth involved in wars. The wars can be between nations or involve one or more of the 551 militias groups. The site is updated monthly. With social media, global exposure to ethnic and religious violence has multiplied exponentially, with major news networks often quoting facebook and twitter for insights on the ongoing tragedies.

Even in areas with no formal war or militia influence, violence is rampant. Violence within homes, in schools, malls and even movie theaters seems to be common place. Any attempt to address the issue is seen as infringing on someones rights. Apparently the right to kill is more important, and has a better lobby than the right to live.

This August marks the 100 year anniversary of World War One. In many ways, similar political and ethnic situations exist as they did in the Summer of 1914. That war unleashed a new kind of savagery upon the earth in terms of the mechanization of military actions. So severe and brutal was the experience of air and land machinery used to fight, so unique and horrifying was the war on soldiers and civilians alike, that humanity first started to experience post traumatic stress syndrome, and called the recurring nightmares and frayed nerves "shell shock."

As we witness modern brutality, a common thread of response is seen throughout the newspapers, web sites and internet comments. Somehow, according to popular opinion, certain groups deserve to be slaughtered and traumatized, while others do not. If one objects to or remarks on the violence towards one group, they must endure the ire of the opposing group. How are we to face this age of quickening of violence and strife? What is the answer to such suffering? 

The Icon above is of a genre that is typical of the geography and age from which it was made. On the back of the Icon is a picture of the crucified Christ.

Icon with the Man of Sorrows, about A.D. 1175–1200, Kastoria, Greece

The Madonna's in the above genre, as well as the Black Madonna's in general are portrayed as very sad. The Madonna above seems to be clutching her child in anticipation of what is to come, as if she can see the future pictured on the back of the Icon.

Violence and suffering can be as distracting as pleasure and entertainment. In Anthroposophical Christology, we are told about the reappearance of the Christ in the Etheric Realm. We are told that as Christ initiated his penetration of the Etheric at the same time as World War One. His main appearance was to commence in 1933. During each corresponding time of human history when the Christ was becoming manifest in the Etheric realm, major strife and horror disrupting all of civilization occurred on a global scale. Instead of witnessing the Christ in the Etheric, humanities gaze was focused on the Nazi's rise to power. What are we being distracted from at this time in human evolution?

The Black Madonna's became prominent during the era of the Crusades. This was also a time of great violence, social upheaval and seemingly endless warfare and religious strife. Rudolf Steiner tells us that the Crusades were a preparation for the age of Consciousness Soul, the age we are currently experiencing. The age of Consciousness Soul is when we are to purify our Astral bodies, the collective Astral plane of humanity, to allow pure thoughts to come from the Spiritual World to penetrate our minds and souls. We are to learn to think independantly and to choose morality, to choose the Divine in full freedom and from our own effort, In essence we are to be fully conscious in order to choose to allow the Christ into our hearts, minds and souls. All of the Black Madonna's have narratives of endurance through incredible odds. The Madonna at the top of this post, has also endured through many wars, cultural upheavals. While she seems anxious and upset at the future of her child, we know of the triumph ahead.

Our task in this age of great suffering is to stay focused on the Divine. Not only the Divine for the sake of the Divine, but to be aware of the spark of the Divine in each human we encounter. We can be in solidarity with those who suffer, and recognize the worth of each human regardless of externals. We can pray for those who are crossing the threshold at this time that their life forces be used for the good. We can consciously forgive those who perpetrate evil, in order to free ourselves, to purify our thoughts as preparation for the Cosmic Christ.

One of our community members lost his daughter to an insane murderer. As our community reeled with the shock of the incident, my Priest talked about a truth we often overlook in our sadness and anger at injustice. 

When a soul looks back on their death from an act of violence, it is remembered with great joy. Why? Because the death and resurrection which happens as a result of the violence is the ultimate triumph of life over death, of goodness over evil, of entering into communion with the Divine. We on this side of the threshold, grieve accordingly. But for those who have had their lives cut short by evil, they are released into the next phase of existence. We can work with them, pray with them and for them so that they can inspire the living to acts of love and brotherhood. We can celebrate their becoming part of the Mystic Body of Christ, the community of which we all are to become a treasured part.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow--not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. Romans 8:38

If you go to the prison in Rome where Paul wrote this verse, you will have a new appreciation for the transcendent joy that comes with the knowledge that there is more to life than what we can experience with our senses. While evil seems to swirl about, it is trying to distract us on a grand scale to the fact of our spiritual ascent to the Divine. We are preparing our hearts and souls for the Cosmic Christ, so that he can penetrate us and help us to be part of the Mystic Community of Light and Love. Nothing, not one thing in heaven and earth, not violence, not genocide, nothing can separate us from the power of the love of the Divine. The Divine understands betrayal, death through torture and violence and weeps for the pain of those who experience these traumas, but the Divine through the example of Christ shows us there is more, so much more.

I long for the days when the strife ends, but I welcome the transformation that is happening now, the great awakening of Humanity to her Divinity. Until then, I cling to the hope the Black Madonna inspires. Suffering, endurance, will, it is not all in vain. She has suffered, she has lost, she understands and she triumphed. Her son suffered injustice and a violent death, and overcame. So shall we, so shall we.

The Black Madonna of Montserrat, Spain

Thursday, May 22, 2014

We Are Made of the Substance of Stars

A Cosmic Star Cloud

There seems to be quite a kerfuffle in the past several decades, actually centuries over which world view is the most accurate. The world view of Science, (Materialistic Science that is,) versus Religion, or a Spiritually based orientation. For me personally, I have always understood that Science was articulating the Divine order in the Universe.

Super Nova the Explosion of a Star

The foundations of modern science that in many ways started in the 15th Century were all based on the work of highly reverent religious men seeking to understand the mechanisms of the Universe. Even Einstein admitted he wanted to know how God thinks. His universal equation e = mc2 or Energy equals mass times the speed of light squared is the basis for all modern understandings of physics.

An equation is an entity where items are equal with one another on opposite sides of the "equal" sign. If you move around the constants of Einstein's equation, mass can be understood as frozen light, mass is made  up of light.

Creation of the Sun Moon and Stars, St Issacks of Syria Skeet [http://www.monasterygreetings.com/Products.asp?PCID=314 Source])

 Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 

So in the beginning there was darkness, and then there was light.

There are scientists working at the Imperial College in the United Kingdom to create matter out of light. This experiment is being hailed as an expansion of a 80 year old theory, the scientists say, and modern technology will allow this to happen. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2632388/Scientists-finally-hope-turn-light-matter-80-years-trying.html

I say, that is delightful, pun intended. But it actually has already been done, and our very bodies carry this so called 80 year old theory in every aspect of our cells.

We are told in the dictum of esoteric Christianity and Hermeticism, "As above, So Below," which is taken to mean what happens on the earth happens in the heavens. In the Lord's Prayer we say "Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven."

The Milky Way

Our night sky is teeming with a stellar community. Every cluster that the eye can see has a story and a name associated with it. New discoveries are allowing us to see millions of galaxies that occupy space, but what holds everything together is something called Dark Matter. Why is it that when you learn about stars, each one has a name and a story associated with it? For me it shows that the stars are living beings creating a spiral dance in the sky surrounding us in a community of love and harmony. Each star was uttered into existence by the Logos, or the divine Word of God. As we learn in Proverbs 8:22-23, one of the Wisdom Books of the Bible, “The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; I was formed long ages ago at the very beginning, when the world came to be." This verse tells us that the creation of Holy Wisdom, the Holy Sophia was the first creation that allowed for the matrix, the container of the universe. His Logos created the being that holds the universe together. Science calls this being Sophia "Dark Matter."


Astronomers have mapped the cosmic "scaffold" of dark matter upon which stars and galaxies are assembled.

A recent video narrated by Dr. Michelle Thaller from NASA shows that the elements that make up the chemistry of life, our bodies and all that surrounds us were originally the substance of the stars. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUo-Q8hhvB0

I only disagree with her words that we are made up of "dead" stars, for me the substance of the stars is living and pulsating within me, within all of us, all of life, and the stars are the essence of the original Logos of the Divine that said "let there be light."

The ancients had a living relationship with the Divine, and saw evidence of Spirit in all of nature, in every activity, breath and word of humans. We were seen as the great connectors between heaven and earth. Every bodily organ had a star or a planet associated with it. 

The Universal Human by Hildegard of Bingen, 1098-1179

The Cosmos by Hildegard of Bingen, 1098-1179
In Acupuncture there is a star associated with every acupuncture point in the body, twelve meridians for the twelve organs corresponding with the twelve months of the year, 365 points for the days in the year, and a star correspondence with every point. The points in a way can be seen as a portal for the heavens to enter the body.

The Virgin of Guadalupe

In the Madonna of the Apocalypse, we are told that she has 12 stars at her head, clothed with the sun and the moon at her feet. Most of the Black Madonnas are pictured with Stars on their heads or veils. The Virgin of Guadalupe has a mantle of stars, surrounded by a corona of sunbeams, pregnant with the saviour and the moon at her feet. The image is reminiscent of Revelations  12 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.

The Virgin of the Apocalypse by Rudolf Steiner

The Madonna as art form is the aggregate representation of the universal human soul. The crown of 12 stars in Revelation represents cosmic forces, cosmic thinking as portals of the formative forces of the heavens coming into the soul of humanity. The Madonna is a picture of the future of the human soul, as how the Christ enters through purified thinking into the soul of humanity so we can birth him in our hearts and carry his will of universal love upon Earth.

The Black Madonna of Cologne, Germany

Black Madonna of Antipolo

Black Madonna of Chipiona

For me, the concept of all the substances that make up the elements of Iron which pulses in our blood, Oxygen and Hydrogen in our water and air, and Carbon that is the backbone of all life forms that came from the original star that birthed forth our universe at the bidding of our Lord when he said, "Let there be light, " this concept is not comping from a "dead star." It is a living example that the Logos of the Divine giving life to all of matter, makes matter out of Light. It is the Logos, the Word that brought forth life out of the generative darkness of the universe. Modern Materialistic science is now showing that we are made up of the living force of creation, we come from the stuff that makes up the stars we see in the heavens, the stars that have names and stories and that dance about us. The scientists that are articulating this, making matter out of light are simply recreating what was already done.

At the beginning of John's Gospel, we are told, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life,and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

I see the parallels between what the Gospels and the Genesis narrative poetry reveals and what humans are discovering when they delve into the mysteries of existence with their telescopes and microscopes. I also see what the Black Madonna's are also telling us, that we are to open ourselves to the Cosmic Wisdom of the Logos, so we can birth the Christ within our hearts. 

The Black Madonna's, The Virgin of Guadalupe are telling us we are made up of star dust, and are to receive Cosmic Wisdom to purify our souls so that we may Birth The Christ Within. Blessings on your Journey into the heart of your soul which comes from the heart of the Universe!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Pieta

If you have ever been to the Vatican and entered St. Peter's Basilica, one of the most famous works of art in this unbearably ornate cathedral is Michelangelo's Pieta. I first saw this when I was 12 years old, during the days when you could actually get close to it and experience the elegant soulful mourning of a mother who watched her adult child's execution. Shortly after our family's visit, an insane man attacked the statue with a hammer, it was repaired but now sits behind bullet proof glass and a hefty distance from viewers. Actually it is hard to really experience the art in this new arrangement, but alas modern times dictate the safety precautions.

Pieta in Groom, Texas 1995

In Groom Texas, outside of Amarillo, a local gentleman was tired of all the advertising of the decadence in modern culture along the interstate. He commissioned a series of black metal sculptures depicting the Stations of the Cross, and placed them on private land so as to not be subject to secular laws. To my knowledge, this is one of the few modern Black Pieta's in existence. It is also a very intimate as you can walk up and get close to the image, which goes along with the Black Madonna experience in general, more accessible.

Often when we think of The Madonna, it is of a Mother and young infant son. While the white Madonna's, particularly starting in the Renaissance, are depicted in very serene and joyful presentations.......... 

The Black Madonnas on the other hand are often somber.

 The Black Madonna of Czestochowa, Poland

The Black Madonna of Marsat, France

In the journey of faith, mysteries are continually revealed throughout the experience. As one ages, the understandings become deeper and more real with time. One of the purposes of Christ's Incarnation is to model the initiation of Humanity. Christ came to us to experience a human life and death so the Spiritual World could comprehend our task, but also to show the way to conscious free union with the Divine. "Ye shall be as Gods," does not mean power over the elements, it means to suffer so all illusions disappear and we can be free from what holds us back from full awareness of the truth. He endured all human weakness and folly, to show us what lies ahead for us, both the pain and the triumph.  The Christian Community calls The Christ; The Son of Man. This denomination also calls communion; The Act of Consecration of Man. There is a profound reason for this identification.

Mary the Mother of Jesus was one of the first humans to say yes to the Christ Event. 

The Annunciation by Henry Osswa Turner

In art, the archetype of The Madonna is that of the perfected human, the human soul. The obvious correlation is that humanity is to birth the Christ within. The tender depictions of Madonna and Child in a way belie the challenges that come with taking up the way of the Christ. The final outcome is a joyous, peaceful and enlivening experience, but the journey is anything but smooth.

The Black Madonna's, their color and narratives, resonate deeply with humanity. The devotion to these works of art is unrivaled in Europe. They depict the deep sufferings that earthly life encompasses but also give a message of endurance, and an example that conveys support, the Black Madonna's continually say "you can do this, because I have done it."

To lose a child is one of life's greatest sorrows. No matter the age of the child, stage or method, it is the most devastating of all pains from which the parent never recovers. But Mary the Madonna, knows this pain, this searing tearing of the heart. For her, she witnessed the unjust execution of her child. After all she had experienced, all that she had "pondered" in her heart, the heavenly revelations as to the being she was guiding through his life as only a mother can, her bewilderment over what she was witnessing must have been multifold.

When we lose anyone, particularly a child, we often question, "how could God do this, how could he let this happen?" Can you imagine the questions Mary had watching her child on the cross? What went through her mind as he lay lifeless on her lap? For me this is the deep significance of the Pieta. We in the West often overlook the suffering involved in Christianity, we focus on the joyous birth of Jesus, and skip right on to the Ressurection, with our Easter egg hunts and pastel flowers on the Altar. Obviously the focus should be on the Joy, the empty tomb, but quite a bit happened to get to that point. This is why I think the term "Son of Man" is so poignant, because in essence he is our Son, and we will all go through a similar journey.

So many mother's mourn their children, many lost to senseless violence of unjust laws or wars.

To carry a child in your body, all the effort, sacrifice, love and care that goes into raising that child, no other earthly love can compare. To lose a child due to violence adds an extra layer of horror to the grief.

God understands this grief, Mary lived it, the Spiritual World witnesses this pain, and yet there is transformation. The refinement of suffering brings a wisdom and an openness no other worldly lesson can bring. The searing pain was experienced by one of humanities greatest daughters, and in a way is endured by the Divine as he witnesses his children destroying themselves and the very planet they were gifted to live upon.

For me as I go along my sojourn, with so many losses and enduring griefs, as I witness and offer support to my friends who are going through the fire of the death of their children, I look to the somber Black Madonna's who bring a message of comfort. They speak to me of the refinement that comes with suffering, that endurance is possible, and that triumph is the outcome. The Black Madonna's seem more prophetic of the journey the Madonna was about to embark. Some even show a glimmer of a smile which for me is a knowing look conveying what lies ahead for us, the treasures in heaven and of the riches hidden in dark places.