Dangling from my rearview mirror,
she is a constant companion,
journeying with me from place to place,
a reminder to be patient with the drivers
and with my husband sitting in the passenger seat.
On a prayer card,
she is a gift from my madrina on the day of my Baptism,
a reminder that I belong to the Church,
and that the Church belongs to me.
On my rosary,
she is a brazen testament to my Catholic faith
and my continual identification with Mexico,
even generations after separation.
Standing beside the altar,
her gaze lovingly fixed on her son,
God’s beautiful mother reminds me
to ponder, discern, affirm, and magnify our God.
She is my classmate,
my checkout attendant,
Guadalupe is my grandma,
who exuded grace, devotion, prudence, and fortitude
as she raised twelve children
amid unspeakable poverty.
She is my daughter,
the one I dream of,
the one I pray for,
even before she has been conceived.
She is a powerful brown woman,
bringing hope to the downtrodden,
proclaiming justice to the oppressed.
She is me.
She is a community organizer,
walking humbly with the dispossessed,
gathering her people to struggle for justice
under her vibrant banner.
She is a revolutionary,
leading a people to self-determination,
embodying the mestizo reality,
and giving hope to a nation.
She is a theologian,
constantly and creatively pointing us
towards her beloved son,
calling us to discipleship in the life-giving Word.
She is a witness
to violence, poverty, and corruption,
to conversion, transformation, and rebirth,
to goodness, beauty, and truth.
She is manipulated for the narrow self-interest of many.
She is misappropriated to defend exclusion and condemnation.
She is deployed as a weapon against willful women.
She is leveraged against otherness, distinguishing the pure from the profane.
She is rejected, despised, loathed.
“She is an idol!” “She is incidental!” “She is nothing!”
“She detracts from the worship of her Son!”
“What does she have to do with the Gospel?”
Her message is misunderstood.
And Still… she’s everywhere.
Gas Stations. Parking Lots. School Yards. Street signs.
Bars. Bodies. Gardens. Fountains.
Bus Stops. Train Stations. Borders. Graves.
Bathrooms. Cathedrals. Monuments. Doors.
Pondered by pastors and theologians,
considered by CEOs and window washers.
“Is she Mary of Nazareth?” “Is she the Holy Spirit?”
“Does she belong to the Church?” “Does she belong to Mexico?”
“Does she belong to me?” “Do I belong to her?”
She is everywhere – but what does this mean?
Preaching the good news in all places,
Proclaiming to us that her Son is alive,
Testifying that the Word is made flesh,
Telling us of God’s breaking into history,
Witnessing to all people that God’s love is real.
Speaking, guiding, prompting, praying.
Advocating, challenging, redefining, reconciling.
Calling, responding, giving, receiving.
Bleeding, healing, crying, rising.
Pointing her Son to her people,
Pointing her people to her Son.
Her people are His people.
I am His person.
Sitting with me in the silence of her sanctuary.
Speaking tender words of welcome and delight.
Standing with her son, inviting me to stand with her.
Standing with her people, inviting me to stand with them.
Looking at me, she knows my history.
Looking at me, she sees my future.
Looking at her, I know that He lives.
Looking at her, I know that He loves me.
Written on the last day of my visit to Mexico City, where she is everywhere. -nmfh