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Photo credit:  Getty Images

Photo credit: Getty Images

Superstitious folk and some numerologists have long been geeked about yesterday, 12-12-12. They describe the alignment of the numbers as “auspicious,” and portend that miraculous things are possible when this happens. Apparently, lovers think that this date is pretty cool, too, as the marriage chapels in Las Vegas were packed.

They’re all not completely off their rocker. Other-worldly things have happened on December 12. Had CNN existed on December 12, 1531, the scrolling ticker would report that auspicious predictions came true on the Hill of Tepeyac on the outskirts of what is now Mexico City, Mexico.

A young girl surrounded by light appears before an Aztec peasant boy, and asks that a church be built in her honor. Flowers not native to the country miraculously appear in full bloom on a hill in the dead of winter. The boy, Juan Diego, picks them up and gathers them in his tilma cloak. When he presents himself to the Archbishop, Fray Juan de Zumárraga, Juan Diego releases the flowers, and he is as surprised as Zumárraga to find an image of the young girl, La Virgen de Guadalupe miraculously imprinted on the fabric of his tilma.

Zumárraga, a son of Spain, was quite unsuccessfully evangelizing the natives of Mexico to Catholicism. After Guadalupe appeared and her church was built, the people began converting in droves. It wasn’t just the miracle of her apparition that catalyzed belief.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe (Photo credit: angelofsweetbitter2009)

Guadalupe’s skin is brown; she spoke to Juan Diego in Nahutal, the local language; and her blue-green mantle is the color reserved for the mythological Aztec divine couple, Ometecuhtli and Omecihuatl. Looking and speaking similarly, honoring a peasant with her presence, and bearing indigenous religious symbolism, Guadalupe is the native people’s own. She gave the oppressed and colonized people hope, and confirmed the mission of evangelization. Mexicans and people of Mexican descent are wholly devoted to Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, as are many Catholics in the Americas. They revere Guadalupe in everyday life, and worship her particularly on her feast day each year, December 12.

The group of seminarians from Western Theological Seminary crowd into the small house. We are visitors to a town on the Mexican side of the US/Mexico border. Three women and several young children welcome us into the home they share with their husbands who are working at the time. As part of our cultural immersion trip, we seminarians are to learn about life south of the border. My classmates ask about daily living, making ends meet, educating the children, their family traditions, and some politics. I ask a theological question in the little Spanish I know.

“Lo importante es La Virgen a usted en su vida de fe?”

How important is the Virgin to you in your faith life?

The women speak rapidly over one another. Their voices and mannerisms enliven. Light shines through their eyes. Love and respect for she of whom they speak fills the air. I needed a translation to understand their words, but I grasped their hearts’ language with ease.

Guadalupe es muy importante.

“I go to her for everything because she understands me,” says one of the women. “You know, woman-to-woman. She knows what I go through. She is in heaven helping me, praying for me, and interceding for me to her son.”

Her sisters and mother-in-law agree, and say similar things. On and on they sing the praises of Guadalupe — how benevolent she is, how patient she is, how understanding, compassionate, loving, and nurturing.

“She is our mother,” says the matriarch. “We don’t know what we would do without her there in heaven for us.” The younger women nod in agreement.

Con permiso, porfavor?

I beg for one more question. The women’s eyes and mine are locked. This conversation has connected us to one another. Strangers previously, these ladies and I now share an ethereal bond, thanks to Guadalupe.

I ask for translation help on this one because I know it is a touchy question. The urge to ask it is strong, so I speak, anyway.

“Would you say that Guadalupe is more important to you than God, or maybe even Jesus?”

The women’s silence is deafening. They look to one another. I perceive that they may be beseeching permission from one another. What are they thinking? I wonder. I am fascinated by their seemingly telepathic conversation. Rounded shoulders, lowered voices, looks over their shoulders, apprehensive facial expressions — their non-verbals suggest fear and risk-taking. The women shrug slightly, share an almost imperceptible nod of concurrence, and then turn again to address me.

One by one, within milliseconds of one another, the women nod.

Si, si ella es.

Yes, yes she is.

If I hadn’t considered the divine feminine prior to that day, I definitely began to from that point on. My soul ached for feminine divinity. Overwhelmingly I felt the need to be connected to God the way that my hostesses were to Guadalupe. Within my Protestant theology, however, there is no one feminine “up there” in heaven.

Or is there? a voice whispers to me.

Like Mary when the angel Gabriel greeted her, I “was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that” (Luke 1: 29, The Message), and for quite some time, I pondered what it might mean in my heart.

God is so much more than any human can think or imagine.

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Deeply Loved Advent blog hop series week two book drawing

Advent seriesThanks to the generosity of thirteen talented Christian authors, we’re doing a book giveaway each week during the Deeply Loved Advent blog hop series. For information about the weekly book giveaways, and how you can enter, please click here.

This week we’ll draw for three books. Winners will be announced on “Woman, in Progress…” (this site) tomorrow.

Everything: What You Give and What You Gain to Become Like Jesus, by Mary Demuth

Andrew’s Christmas by Brendan Barth

Love You More: The Divine Surprise of Adopting My Daughter by Jennifer Grant

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