When did it all begin, my friendship with Mary? Since my beginning, I’m sure. She’s always been with me, I’ve heard. There was the beautiful Mary statue and rosary given to me for my First Communion, or my Mary performance in a grade-school Christmas play. “She’s all about peace and love,” I’d often think when I’d see her in church. Peace and love. The best things in life really are free.

I’m not the #1 rosary sayer, nor a champion novena pray-er. My home isn’t filled with shrines and statues, and I never felt a burning desire to join the convent. I was scared to visit Lourdes, and in fact I was angry at myself for having planned to spend so much time there. What the hell was I going to do in Lourdes for four days by myself?!! I would have to stop, get quiet, sit with myself and listen.

I’m certainly not my own vision of what a perfect Mary devotee looks like. What does he or she look like anyway? Hands clasped in prayer, eyes skyward?

So why is She around me always?

This is what I’ve come up with. First of all, it seems to me there is no champion, first place, #1, top of the class designation for those who love The Blessed Mother. There aren’t any ribbons, medals or gold stars for praying the most rosaries or novenas. She loves all regardless. And, we all come to Her in our own ways. There’s no room for comparison. It’s about our heart and the capacity, the desire to give and receive love.

So, I can throw out that image of the perfect Marian devotee and know that I am, we are, perfect in Her eyes just as we are.