I have spent most of my life learning what power is not.
Like many perhaps most of women somewhere around my age, those of us growing up during the sixties, I eschewed the notion of living the life of the older women I grew up around- housewives and mothers. And was determined to accomplish. To be viewed as accomplished, even using the word “famous” to my mother as a teenager.
Along the way, I assimilated the attributes of what I believed were those belonging to powerful women (adapted from men) and some were appropriate: Confidence, knowledge, formal education, expertise in writing and publishing. Many were not. In fact, they served as stumbling blocks: argumentative, aggressive and confrontative. After reaching the number of degrees, number of publications and notoriety that could be viewed as fame in my small circle of academic medicine, I hit the wall. And converted to Catholic Christianity.
During the recent feast days celebrating Mary: Her birth on September 8th, then on the 12th, her Most Holy Name followed by Our Lady of Sorrows on the 15th, I have pondered the young girl, her Magnificat and her words to the servants at the wedding. “Do whatever he tells you.” Fewer than fifty words, we read from this Mother of God. Most of them a rephrasing of the barren woman who appealed to God for a child, Hannah’s prayer. Mary would have known the prayer, schooled as she was in Judaism and The Law. Consequently, there are five words which are credited to her in any of the Gospels: “Do whatever he tells you.” The remainder of the Gospels mention only her reactions: silence and pondering the words of her son in her heart.
Only the unreasonable would hang on to her former notion of power. Or those who believe the Mother of God to be just another woman, ordinary. Queen of the Angels, just five words. The model she represents to us all is worth repeating a third time: Do whatever he tells you.