Then I started finding Marys everywhere and bringing them home. I'd buy old, cracked Virgin Marys at flea markets for a dollar. Some were even as cheap as 10 cents. I felt like I was rescuing her from abandonment and degradation. I had no desire to become a Catholic or anything (and still don't). It was all about her. Who was she?
I started reading books about Mary and found it interesting that in the history of Catholicism there have been precious few Jesus sightings, but enormous numbers of Mary sightings (and she appears in the race of the people who see her). People love her!
As I read, it reminded me that the environmental and organic movement as well as religion use fear to manage their adherents. If you sin, you are going to hell. If you marry someone from a different faith, you will be banished. If you have sex outside of the bounds we set, you will be stoned to death. No religion was exempt from this fear-based intimidation. Somehow I hadn't fully seen this before.
But then there was Mary. She would kiss it and make it better. Mary, as the popular T-shirt slogan states, became my "home-girl." Long before "The Da Vinci Code" became a runaway best seller, scholars and writers had been writing about her. Through them and my own inner explorations, I discovered her long and illustrious tradition, one that had begun well before written history and way before she was declared a virgin by the Catholic Church. I then read a book called "Sacred Pleasure" by Riane Eisler, which explored how ancient, female-based religions viewed pleasure seeking as an act of worship. And that was it. Before I knew it, I'd found lots of other "pleasure revolutionaries" throughout history who had walked the path before me and cleared the way. I learned a third lesson: Pleasure is an ancient, sacred path.
With that, I tripped, stumbled, and fell for good. I was now permanently and forever on the path of pleasure. And I will not turn back.
What does Maya have to do with all of this? In many ways, my daughter was my catalyst, my reason for it all: my search, my frustration with society and religion, my determination to find answers. When I was 19 and alone in a dorm room, realizing I was pregnant; realizing that many in my family and my boyfriend wanted me to have an abortion; realizing that I would probably be shunned by the people I knew (after all, it was 1981 -- upper-class white girls having kids out of wedlock just wasn't done back then -- at least publicly); realizing that my future was in my own hands; I trusted my heart and soul. I listened to the tiny voice inside of me that said, "I am terrified, but I do not want to have an abortion. Everything happens for a reason -- I don't know why it is right now but I'll find out some day. God doesn't give you challenges you can't handle -- I am going to keep this baby because I don't want to live with the regret of what might have been." I realized the true meaning of "choice"; having a child at such a young age wasn't for everyone, nor should it be, but this was my path.
And so I kept my baby. Now she's my best friend. We both are tripping and stumbling along this path of pleasure and laughing at our head-bonks and stupid mistakes … and always stopping to watch Thursday night TV. We comfort each other through our crying fits and depressive episodes.