Joy to the World

Wow... sometimes you create in response to your life and other times your life seems to catch up with what you create. Yes, I'm back... sorry for the lack of posting the last couple of weeks... straight jobs can be quite demanding and quite exhausting! Thanks to everyone for all the sweet birthday wishes. Thanks especially to Rocky, who showed up at Harborside in uniform Saturday night and told me "Go home! I'm taking your shift!"

    This is "Joy to the World".  I did this piece a few years ago. Last week, I found myself thinking about it thanks to some wonderful people who just happened to sit in my section on a Sunday afternoon.

    I love the Virgin of Guadalupe as an icon, but I am always disturbed and saddened by how dour all the versions of it always are. The idea that Mary would get the news that she would be giving birth to a spirit that would change the world for the better seems like it would fill her with joy rather than sadness. Really. But if you look at most  (all the other) versions, you'd they were illustrations for a sympathy card....

"Have you heard the Good News?" 

  "Yes. Isn't it awful?"

   Seriously... at the base of the icon is an angel... even he's depressed!

   My version is in response to that... and I guess  also to the seriousness and sheer lack of fun that seems to accompany most discussions of religion and what place it takes in our lives and society. I think as spiritual beings we always have to ask ourselves...which world do we live in? More importantly, which world do we live for? One of the arguments I often hear for religion is that we can't be sure... so why don't we act like we believe because maybe it's all true!  But if we believe in an afterlife, then what is the purpose of the life we live at this instant? Is it just to earn points so we can get admitted to the really good party afterwards? If we're bad now, does that mean we're not invited? And who gets to define who's good enough to get past that velvet rope in the sky?

    I was reminded of this sculpture when I met these fine folks the other day...
    That's Michael and his sister, Julie... ( the picture was taken by Michael's partner (I think) John They're pictured at a rally held here in Seattle in support of our American nuns...apparently the Suits (or is it the Skirts?) in the Vatican are a bit ticked off at the Sisters for making waves... advocating for social justice, living wages,  advising people to make their own choices for birth control and life partners, generally raising hell at a time when the Pope would prefer everyone to sing from the same hymnal, so to speak.

    A group of Northwest Catholics got together and decided to rally to "Support the Sisters" on the day I met Julie, Michael and John. Hundreds of people marched down Broadway to St. James Cathedral to lay flowers and speak in support of these women. The sign Julie is holding is her way of saying thanks to the women who taught her. She hoped someone from her old school might see her sign. She never dreamed that she and Michael would actually come face to face with their old catechism teacher and have the opportunity to say thanks, face to face, and stand in support of her.

   Talking to these sweet funny people that afternoon brought me back to my days at St. Catherine's on East 69th St. in Manhattan. It was old school Catholicism. And joke as much as I do about how scary Sister Bernadette was, with her sour puss and her ever present yardstick, she didn't make nearly as big an impression as did Sister Regina Anderson. One day in my third grade year, we were outside in our tiny little playground (and by playground I mean parking lot).We couldn't do much at recess. The school didn't want us to run around lest we got hurt, so sports were right out. Naturally, somebody smuggled in a football one day. Sister caught the kid going back for a throw and took the football away from him.

  And she started playing Quarterback for us.

  Damned if that nun  didn't have a great arm.

  God bless the sisters that do what needs to be done.


  1. Beautiful story, beautiful sculpture. I love hearing stories about the positive influences of Catholic clergy, since my own as a child were so negative. Remind me to tell you sometime about Fr. Louis Vitale and Sr. Megan Rice and the time we were all arrested...


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