Blogs About Mary by Jill

Mary: Visions of Mary (Book by Jill)

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Notre Dame de la Belle Verriere Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe Blue Virgin Window at ChartresWhere do your eyes go first when you look at this image? Look again, which face is drawing you? Did you focus on Jesus or Mary? We are all conditioned to interpret reality. We can also learn to look at familiar sites and themes with fresh eyes.
Apsidal Chapel, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionLooking Towards GodVisions of Mary: Art, Devotion, and Beauty at Chartres Cathedral places Mary within the context of her “home” at Notre Dame de Chartres. The stained glass of the cathedral sometimes speaks of her directly, and sometimes reminds those in prayer to look towards God, just as she did.
Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionNotre Dame de ChartresWalking around a corner in Chartres, France I came upon two tourists. Their mouths were literally open, their eyes big, and their bodies still. They were seeing the west façade of the cathedral for the first time.
Assumption of Mary, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionAn Angel's Point of ViewPerspective matters. What if you saw from above, instead of from below?
Fulbert healed by Mary, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionMary's ExampleBernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) wrote, “…never forget the example of Mary’s life.” How does (or how can) the example of Mary’s life inspire you?
Mary, West Wall Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionQuestioningThe Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38) of Jesus’ birth by Gabriel didn’t make sense to Mary. She wanted to understand, so she asked a question. Our faith grows stronger when we engage with God honestly.
Annunciation, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionReally?When caught by complete surprise, I often wonder, “God, are you in this?!” I rarely predict how God is going to manifest in my life.
Veil of Mary, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionWrapped in LoveLove is communicated through touch, color, word, symbol, even fabric. Imagine the love baby Jesus felt wrapped up in Mary’s “veil,” held securely next to her warm body and beating heart.
Margurite, Donor, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionDevotionA French ecumenical group that studied Mary suggests that if you are Protestant, it may be helpful to ask Jesus to further introduce you His mother. If you are Catholic or Orthodox, it may be useful to ask Mary to help you know Jesus better.
West Wall Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionLiftedGothic architecture lifts us heavenward. Even if God isn’t “up” above, Chartres Cathedral’ moves us towards God’s Presence.
Presentation at the Temple at Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThere's More...There is always more to a story than the central plot line. Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Temple because it was required of them. God used the experience to reveal far more than they could have imagined.
Mary Throne at Chartres CathedralCelebrating LifeLife, may I celebrate all that I have lived and all that lives in me.
Notre Dame Sous Terre, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionBlessingContributing to another’s wellbeing is one of the definitions of blessing. In religious art a well-known symbol of blessing involves the right hand with the pointer and middle fingers raised. The loving touch of holding is surely another symbol of blessing.
Emtombment of Jesus, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionSilent GriefSenseless death can, for a time, leave us speechless. We see Mary with a thumb pressed over her lips in this image of Jesus’s entombment.
Flight to Egypt, Chartres Cathedral by Jill GeoffrionEmbodied SupportWe find a family fleeing the murderous desire of those with power; they are looking into each other’s eyes and finding the courage to keep going. May we never lose the ability to use our embodied presence in ways that bring courage, safety to the vulnerable, and justice for all.
The Nativity: Chartres Cathedral Choir by Jill GeoffrionNew Ways of LookingWhat did Jesus see when he looked at his mother for the first time?
Jesse, the root, Chartres Cathedral by photographer Jill GeoffrionHow Are We All Related?When will we remember that as God’s created children we are part of God’s immense family that includes everyone?
Mary with flowering rod at the Chartres CathedralGenerational LoveHow was Mary prepared to parent Jesus? Who mothered Mary? Whose love made it possible for her to love her son, the Son of God?
Mary at School, Mary window at the Chartres CathedralWhat Does God Have To Say?Mary was most likely young, uneducated, and illiterate when Jesus was born. Why then, would the medieval artists at Chartres show her reading a book while at school?

Stained Glass: Life of Mary

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Mary's Birth, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary's BirthBirth is a miracle. It is also a mystery to ponder. Anne’s face in this scene that takes place shortly after Mary’s birth calls me to remember the birth of my sons and to wonder about my birth.
Mary's first bath, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary's First BathOur first washing follows birth, our last washing follows death. The loving care of others accompanies us as we arrive and leave this life. Remembering this helps me to breathe more deeply.
Mary Taken to School, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionWillingMary’s hands express a willingness to trust. At the same time, her face reminds me of the questions I can hold even as I say to God, “Thy will be done.”
Mary at School, Chartres, Jill GeoffrionThe WordIt is unlikely that Mary went to school, but this image of her reading highlights words–reminding viewers of the Word she later carried within. Looking at Mary, I remember how Scripture study often helps prepare me for the future.
Life of Mary, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionSurprise!According to an ancient story Mary was twelve years old when she became engaged to Joseph, a widower with children. Life is full of surprises. I wonder what helps me learn to welcome them?
Wedding, Life of Mary, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionWeddingWhen I look at the hands of Mary (left) and Joseph at their wedding, I am in touch with how it is both easy and hard to follow God’s will–and how sometimes we need the help of others (the priest’s hands joining theirs in the center) in doing so.
Annunciation, Life of Mary, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionYesWhen medieval artists wanted to show someone saying “Yes” they placed one of their hands in front of them with the palm open as it faced the viewer. I want a “Yes” person, which isn’t always easy!
Visitation, Life of Mary, Chartres, Jill GeoffrionFriendshipI treasure the privilege of being with a friend during one of life’s critical moments.
The Nativity, Life of Mary, Chartres, by Jill GeoffrionThe Nativity: Animal CompanionsTradition places the a bull and a donkey near the Christ child after his birth. While Mary reaches for her son and Joseph contemplates in this medieval image of the Nativity, Jesus looks towards his animal companions. I wonder what it was like for the Creator to know creation from inside the human experience.
Annunciation to the Shepherds, Jill GeoffrionAnnouncement of the ShepherdsOur lives are full of moments that are influenced by things we don’t experience ourselves. Mary wasn’t present with shepherds when the angels appeared, but she thought carefully with her mind and heart about what had happened. Like Mary, pondering leads me to the deep places I long to understand more fully.
Jesus and Mary at Jesus' presentation at the TemplePresentation of Jesus in the TempleRituals help us we stay connected with our own lives and the bigger life-story. When I look back on the services in which we dedicated our sons to God, I remember looking at them with love, hope, and a sense of needing God’s help to parent them faithfully.
Herod asks Maji about King of the Jews, Jill GeoffrionFearOne of the things I love about studying the Bible is that there are often deeper ways to understand familiar texts. While my first reaction may be fear, focusing on what God is doing brings freedom to follow–and joy.
2 Magi follow the star, Chartres, Jill GeoffrionCaught in the MiddleLife sometimes puts us in the middle of people and situations where we need to discern what is best. In God’s beautiful economy, I’m amazed at how often I am shown the way.
Magi Visit Jesus & Mary Chartres Jill GeoffrionLooking CarefullyThere is so much more to each moment than we will ever know. While I can’t take all of life in, I can try to look closely at what is right in front of me.
Flight to Egypt Chartres Jill K H GeoffrionWhat Makes Life BearableUnspeakable things happen–sometimes to us, sometimes to others we care about. Even if nothing can change, being with those I love brings comfort.
Massacre of the Innocents by Jill K H GeoffrionHorror (Massacre of Innocents)In the face of evil, there is sometimes nothing to say. I know God hears me in the silence.
Jesus Blessing, Life of Mary by Jill GeoffrionBlessing Be Upon YouJesus, raising his right hand in blessing, is found at the top of many windows at Chartres, including the window dedicated to the life of Mary. The more I remember that God is always present, blessing, the easier it is to see the beauty around me, to have hope, and to reach back in love.

Mary: The Nativity (Jesus's Birth)

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Nativity, Jubé Chartres by Jill GeoffrionChristmas LoveChristmas is the joy of God’s arrival. Christmas is the joy of sharing our lives and our love with God.
Nativity sculpture, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionTouchingThe closeness of mother and newborn is a beautiful thing. This representation of the Nativity reminds me that being a new mother has its awkward moments too!
Nativity Sculpture, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionPondering Jesus's BirthGod’s ways often don’t line up with how we think things should be done. God’s choice of coming to earth as a baby gives us all something to ponder deeply. How can this be? What does it mean? Who is God–really? Deep questions spring from my heart and mind.
The Nativity, Life of Mary, Chartres, by Jill GeoffrionThe Nativity: Animal CompanionsTradition places the a bull and a donkey near the Christ child after his birth. While Mary reaches for her son and Joseph contemplates in this medieval image of the Nativity, Jesus looks towards his animal companions. I wonder what it was like for the Creator to know creation from inside the human experience.
Nativity, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionTouching GodDuring these twelve days of Christmas I enter the Nativity story through each of its characters, including the animals.

Lunar Eclipse, Supermoon

A Mother's PrayersMothers all over the world seek God’s help as we pray. We ask for wisdom to teach our children what is most important, the ability to love them in the ways they need, and for God’s will to manifest in their lives.

Mary & The Chartres Labyrinth

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Mary Throne, Apsidal Window, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary and Jesus: East WindowWhile walking and praying the labyrinth in Chartres, images of Mary have reminded me of God’s love. In the coming days and weeks I will be sharing a variety of these depictions of Jesus’ mother with you. Today I start with the image of Mary that is most visible from entrance of the labyrinth and when arriving at its center. Mary, as depicted in the Chartres Cathedral, is a support for Jesus–as his mother, his disciple, and even as in this image, as his throne.
Annunciation, East Window, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionGabriel and Mary: The Apsidal WindowI am often surprised by what God communicates while I move on a labyrinth. While walking in God’s presence, it seems easy, even natural, to accept what I “hear.” This is one of the great gifts of praying while using a labyrinth, the turning path seems to support fluidity in me.
Visitation, East Window, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary and Elizabeth: The Apsidal WindowWalking with friends through life helps to ground me. Being able to share what God is doing in our lives is a source of deep peace and encouragement.
Mary, Tree of Jesse, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary in the Tree of JesseTo feel connected to Mary is to feel connected to her family of physical and spiritual ancestors who sit and stand together in the Tree of Jesse window in the west, watching over the cathedral, reminding us all that we never walk alone.
Annunciation, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe Annunciation of Jesus's BirthSometimes God is full of surprises. Mary helps me remember that I can always respond with total honesty.
The Visitation, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe Visitation of Mary & ElizabethFriends speak volumes to one another without needing words. My understanding of others sometimes comes from our bodies reveal.
Mary, Nativity, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe Nativity of JesusMary reminds me that as I reach towards those I love with a desire to bless them, I need to hold onto myself too. Healthy caring involves balance.
Mary Throne, Magi Visit, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionVisit of the MagiSharing life is richer when I ask those I’m with to tell me about what they are experiencing. Even though we are in the same place, our interpretations of what we are living is likely different.
Return from Egypt, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionReturn from EgyptFleeing political oppression is almost as ancient as human history. What is new is how I choose to respond to it today.
Flight to Egypt, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionFlight to Egypt: Life of Christ WindowActing on wisdom that arrives from God takes courage, grit, and trust. Joseph inspires me to let the journey of life unfold, no matter where it seems to be heading.
Mary, Top of Window, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary Throne with Sun and MoonHow often we walk without awareness. Above the labyrinth in Chartres is a twelfth-century image of Jesus blessing. Mary*, the sun (Jesus’ right at the level of Jesus’ heart), the moon (Jesus’ left), and two angels seem to offer support as they surround him. When I look up from the labyrinth I remember that God’s love often seems invisible, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t present.
Mary below the cross, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary Witnessing Jesus's DeathSuffering is interwoven with life. Even God suffers. By remaining present to the pain that others’ experience, God can use me to love.
Mary holds Jesus's hands after his death, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary Holds Her Dead Son's HandsWhen there are no words, touch still speaks. Even death isn’t powerful enough to kill all connection. As long as I am alive, I can reach for what I love or loved.
Mary Silent as Jesus is buried, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe Silence of MaryWhen something is so horrible that it is inappropriate to speak, I can follow Mary’s example by keeping my hands and heart open.
Mary Breastfeeding Jesus, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary Breastfeeding JesusGod was willing to depend on a woman, as all humans must do, to be nurtured unto life and nourished unto health. I am grateful to Mary, my older sister, whose example reminds me that maternal love is very precious.
Mary on the Organ, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary of the OrganChanging where I look changes what I find. While walking labyrinth path in Chartres by watching the floor, I would never image that this sculpture of Mary holding Jesus is “watching over me” from above.
Shirt on the Pulpit, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe Bishop's PulpitA piece of cloth that Mary may have worn at either the Annunciation or the birth of Jesus is kept with reverence in Chartres. Since this “veil” was kept safely in a locked box throughout the Middle Ages, people thought of it as a shirt. In Chartres there are over 100 depictions of Mary’s shirt, including one on the Bishop’s pulpit in the nave, right above the labyrinth. This wooden symbol of Mary’s care for Jesus, surrounded by roses and lilies, reminds me that as I walk through life God’s fragrant love is never far away.
St. John Window, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionFlight to Egypt: John WindowAt the bottom of the St. John window is an image of Mary, Jesus, and Joseph fleeing the threat of death. John, persecuted for his Christian faith, was exiled to the Greek island of Patmos, less than sixty-six nautical miles from where today’s hundreds of thousands of refugees make their first stop on Kos. While walking the labyrinth, this scene of suffering calls me to move with the questions, “How I might be contributing to the suffering of others?” and “How may I participate in what God desires for those who are seeking safety in our very broken world?”
Mary's Deathbed, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary's DeathbedWe are all walking towards death. As I move on the labyrinth in Chartres, this tender image of Mary dying while surrounded by the grief-struck disciples reminds me that as natural as loss is, it hurts.
Mary's Soul, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary's SoulBeing with God involves complete vulnerability and acceptance. As I walk the Chartres labyrinth I look at Jesus holding Mary’s soul and I am reminded that God respects me (Jesus holds Mary in his cloak–in the middle ages one did not touch things considered holy with bare hands) and blesses me (Jesus’ right hand) just as I am (Mary is small and naked).
Carrying Mary's Casket, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionJesus's Disciples Carry Mary's CasketCarrying our loss is hard. The sharing of grief makes it bearable.
Glorification of Mary Window, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe Death of MaryRecalling our intimate connection with the earth and our own mortality is grounding. I orient my life by keeping death in view on the horizon.
Assumption of Mary, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe Assumption of MaryTransitions involve stretching, openness, and change. The practice of praying using a labyrinth has taught me a great deal about each. This image of Mary’s assumption into Heaven (a doctrine which as a Protestant seems very foreign) comforts me–the angels are there to help!
Crowning of Mary, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionJesus Crowning Mary“Thee, O God, we praise,” is written in Latin on each side of this image. Christ is placing a crown on Mary’s head. At first glance, this image is hard for me as a Protestant to understand. I look more carefully and notice how Mary is directing attention to her son, the Risen Christ. Above them I see the Holy Spirit (symbolized by a dove) extending red symbols of God’s blessing to both. This image of Mary being crowned by the King of Kings, who wears no crown, expresses His appreciation and respect. I too appreciate and respect Mary for her “Yes,” to God, daily fulfilling the challenge of mothering Jesus, and devotion to her son during his ministry, death, and after his resurrection.
Coronation of Mary, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionThe Coronation of Mary
“Thy will be done,” is a prayer for all seasons. While walking the labyrinth I often reflect on the highs and lows of my life. Like Mary in this image, I ask God for the grace and courage to accept whatever comes.
Mary at Jesus's Crucifixion by Jill GeoffrionMary at Jesus's CrucifixionMany people can walk one labyrinth at the same time, although each lives and integrates the experience differently. This image of Mary mourning below the cross of Jesus reminds me that even in times of deep isolation, the presence of others is a balm.
Mary at Resurrection, Vendome, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary & The Resurrection of the DeadAs I walk the labyrinth and look at this image of Mary honoring Christ, Ruler Over All, I am grateful to have an older sister whose example of directing others to God inspires me. May I follow more closely in her footsteps.
Mary Throne with Jesus on her lap, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary Throne with Jesus on Her LapImages of Mary’s strong gaze, extending over Jesus who sits on her lap while blessing, surround those walking on the labyrinth. Mary and her son are visible whether one looks east, west, north or south where this image is found. The two incensing angels remind me that Love is holy and honorable.
Mary & Theophilus, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMary & Theophilus: Miracles of Mary WindowWhile walking the labyrinth, I can see the images that relate to a thirteenth century miracle play. In it, a priest named Theophilus sells his soul to the devil in exchange for becoming a bishop. Later, realizing how big a mistake he has made, he asks for Mary’s help.
Miracles of Mary Window Chartres by Jill GeoffrionMiracles of Mary WindowThis modern (1927) image of Mary and Jesus, based on the statue of Mary in the crypt (Notre Dame Sous Terre), asks the viewer to consider the value of looking to the past (Mary with her eyes closed) and to the future (Jesus with his eyes open, looking straight ahead). As I walk the labyrinth it also reminds me to gaze within while also seeing what is right in front of me.
Virgin and Donors, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionNorth Clerestory RoseThere are so many ways to pray. Whether on my knees or walking the labyrinth, the important thing is the connection I make with God.
Mary Clerestory Rose ChartresNorth Clerestory RoseWe walk the labyrinth under this image of holy gestation. As I look up to it, I ask God to infuse all that I create with the Holy Spirit (the six doves who are sending red light that encircles Jesus in the womb) so that it will be a great blessing to others (just as Christ is blessing with his right hand).
Bridan Sculpture Choir, Chartres by Jill GeoffrionBridan Sculpture in the ChoirMary’s open arms, reaching out to God, inspire me to pray for the ability to abandon myself with trust.