For the last few weeks, I’ve been hanging out with Mary, getting to know her better and better and deepening my relationship with her. I thought we were close before, but now we’re closer than ever. That’s how it is when you spend time with someone, noticing all the little details, habits, and characteristics that make her who she is. I’m sure you can think of people in your own life with whom you had that experience. It’s an awesome thing, isn’t it?
Now I know Mary in ways that I never knew her before, and I’m ever-so grateful. You know the Mary I’m talking about – the Blessed Virgin Mary. I’ve gotten to know her so well because I’ve been working on my latest book, Imitating Mary: Eight Marian Virtues for the Modern Mom, scheduled for release in Spring 2013 by Ave Maria Press. I put a great deal of research into the manuscript, learning about the customs, culture, traditions, and environment of first century Nazareth so that I could genuinely picture Mary’s life on earth and then be able to share it with you. What a rewarding endeavor!
The concept for the book actually began brewing in my heart and head more than a year ago, with inspiration for it drawn from a series of conversations and e-mail exchanges with my spiritual director. Over the ensuing months, I pieced together what the book would look like, and what would be needed to bring it to completion. Once I had that much, I presented my idea to Ave Maria Press, and they accepted my proposal. With suggestions and guidance from my editor at Ave Maria, I worked out the remaining details. But, it was only in the last four grueling weeks that I was able to bring together all of the factors that make Imitating Mary a work of art: concept, research, formulation, information, inspiration, and writing, writing, writing.
Add to that, of course, hours and hours of prayer. Every author wants as much attention as possible for her books; but, this one gained the attention of someone whose attention I certainly did NOT want! To show you what I mean, here’s a little snip of what I wrote for the dedication page:
“By far, this has been the most rewarding, and at the same time, the most difficult book I’ve ever written. It was clear all along that the evil one didn’t want Imitating Mary published, and he tried in every way to stop it. Obviously, he failed. Once again, Mary was victorious as Queen of my heart, my life, and my work. Of course, she was helped by the many people who diligently prayed and sacrificed for me as I worked, and they deserve credit. This book wouldn’t have made it without them!”
Over the past 12 months, I’ve had a whole team of people praying and sacrificing for me as I worked on the book. Around every corner was some kind of freak mishap, illness, or technical malfunction. And around every corner, was another set of prayers,, offerings, and the blessings of the generous priests in my life. Around every corner, was some new and amazing discovery about Mary – who she was/is, what things must’ve been like for her when she lived on earth, how the happenings in her life with our Lord might have affected her. My research helped me to imagine how Mary might have walked, talked, acted and reacted to the world around her, and what lessons we can learn from her example, and that allowed me to fall deeper and deeper in love with her as my Mother and Queen. I hope to plant the seed of that love and the hearts of my readers.
The finished manuscript is resting (finally) on the altar of our prayer corner, awaiting Mary’s blessing and approval. I’m sure she’s given it by now – has given it all along – but leaving the pages there is a reminder to me that every word I’ve written ultimately belongs to her. It’s been worth hurdling the obstacles, bearing the hardships, and being cloistered in our home office from morning until late at night day after day, week after week. It’s also been worth the exhilaration, anticipation, elation, blessings, and graces that I’ve received in the process. Now it’s time for me to let all that I’ve written sink to greater depth in my own heart, and to pray and sacrifice for all those who supported me as I developed the manuscript.
One of the pieces of advice that I gave in Imitating Mary is to choose an image of Mary that you especially like and study it until you can bring it to life in your mind’s eye at any time, and in any place. You don’t have to be a mom to follow this advice; everyone should have a special image of Mary in their hearts and minds!
I’d like to share with you the image of Mary that I especially like, the one that I can bring to life in my mind’s eye at any time and in any place, the one that was my source of encouragement and inspiration as I wrote the book. It’s the Mother Thrice Admirable, Queen and Victress of Schoenstatt, patroness of The Apostolic Movement of Schoenstatt. Here she is:
I hope that, if you don’t already have one, you’ll find in image of Mary that you especially like and get to know her face so well that you can picture it anywhere and everywhere. Even more, I hope that you’ll spend time hanging out with Mary, getting to know her better and better and deepening your relationship with her. I promise you that it will be worth it. When you find that image, share it with me, won’t you?