Sunday, March 18, 2007
Our Lady of Glasgow
Entry for 18 March 2007:
Today is Mothering Sunday, the UK equivalent of Mother’s Day. I had forgotten about this from when we lived here before, and of course it’s two months’ ahead of American Mother’s Day. I used to scoff at Mother’s Day as some sort of plot by the greeting card industry and other commercial interests to increase business. However, about 15 years’ ago, my dad took me aside and asked me to please, please phone my mom on Mothers’ Day, because although she would never say anything about it, it kind of made her a little depressed if her kids didn’t ring up to wish her a happy Mothers’ Day. Well, if my mom believes in Mother’s Day, then, for her sake, I decided, so would I.
So today when I got to church, I discovered that it was Mothering Sunday. This was nice for two reasons: (a) It seems to have been broadened to include all kinds of people who are in a mothering role, which makes it feel more egalitarian, and means that I might possibly qualify also. (b) Kelvin, our priest, decided to move the Feast of the Annunciation up by a week and combine it with Mothering Sunday, making it a triple header, since the Feast of Annunciation is our church’s patron or feast day, i.e., the special day of the person or being to whom the church is dedicated, in this case St. Mary.
One of the things that drew me to St. Mary’s was its potential connection to the feminine manifestation of God, with which I have connected with strongly since early childhood. However, I had looked in vain there for a some kind of central representation of the Goddess, such as can be found in Antwerp Cathedral, with its depiction of the Assumption of Mary into heaven, and most strikingly the round painting in the ceiling over the altar, depicting Mary ruling in heaven. I had looked in vain for such a sign of Marian theology at St. Mary’s.
It turns out that this was yet another instance of my looking at things without seeing them, like the cairns of Kilmartin last month. As Kelvin literally pointed out in his sermon today, there is a fresco of the Annunciation over the high altar, painted by Gwyneth Leech. What is so charming about this mural is that it depicts the angel appearing to Mary in a typical Glasgow tenement flat (top floor, West End, I’d say). She is sitting on what appears to be a kind of wicker chair (perhaps from IKEA?), facing the angel, who is in the next panel. There is a coffee pot and mug on a little table in front of her, while out the window the spire of her church can be can to be under construction. The painting has a kind of swirly quality, symbolizing that an ecstatic experience is taking place. She is indeed Our Lady of Glasgow!
(Photograph courtesy of St. Mary's Scottish Episcopal Cathedral, Glasgow.)