Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Ironic Heart of Mary

While working in Salt Lake City this week, I came across a marvelous mural by Los Angeles artist Miles "Mac" McGregor. Like his other works, tt was a gripping piece, clasping onto the brick wall and illuminated by a reflecting sunset. To the east, a serene 19th century Methodist church stood strong on a street gentrifying from urban decline towards a hipster vibe. The building itself housed a New York style pizza hot spot.

The focal point of the mural was Our Lady, clasping her immaculate heart. Colorful ornamentation framed her loving body. She gazed peacefully at the scene below her, the sacred heart glowing with passion and love.

And down below her watchful eyes stood a gun shop.

The shop carried ammo, new and refurbished arms, machinery with automatic reloading equipment, and a convenient loan operation. Nostalgic posters glamorizing the lives of soldiers in times of war festooned the walls and windows. I watched men in fatigues entering the store and saw women perusing the sales aisles.

I'm not against personal gun ownership nor am I against the use of recreational firearms. I don't glamorize war, though, and I feel that the term "well-regulated" in fact means there can exist a list of regulations that meet the standard of "well-regulated". I'm a moderate that thinks some people aren't trained or capable of handling deadly force, though most people are. I also think that accidents happen and also that people just SNAP, losing all manner of judgment and morality.

So why am I blogging about this?

I was enroute to the Episcopal cathedral. St Marks as it turned out was closed, but I was looking forward to quiet contemplation after a long day's work. I didn't have a topic for my intended prayers, nor did I have a meditation plan. At best I was going to continue my prayers about the notion of doubt. But this mural was so beautiful and the ironic positioning so striking, I had to understand it.

What does Our Lady's icon represent? In Roman Catholicism and Eastern traditions, it represents Mary's life filled with joys and sorrows, her virtue, and her all-encompassing love. Like all who mortals who see pain and joy in their lives, Mary experienced all these things, but from her special place as the mother of Jesus.

I've seen many icons with swords, fire, or wounds on the heart. This emphasizes the sadness that Mary, as intercessor, hears from our prayers. This imagery was central to my upbringing as a Roman Catholic and played a significant role in many of our prayers at home.

Mary's empathy and love therefore strikes me as having greater depth and meaning when she's looking towards the gun shop. We in America certainly face an unsettling number of murder sprees. Moreover, an incredible number of accidental deaths involve firearms. Sadly, a disproportionate number of victims are children

The heart of Mary is on fire with these traumas. As we pray for the victims, for the wounded, even for the killers, we must also acknowledge that we are participants in this culture. We don't enforce safety laws and even worse are trying to dismantle many regulations. George is about to remove almost all of its gun regulations. We are culpable in every way for causing the pains that afflict us, if not directly then indirectly.

I pray that we are guided, consoled, and encouraged to work towards a safer, respectful, loving world where the Immaculate Heart no longer has a bullet lodged inside.

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