Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Birds who can sing a million songs without any words

A few years ago when I saw the documentary The Ground Truth, I became completely obsessed with the song that played over the final credits. It became my mission to find out who wrote those heartbreakingly beautiful lyrics.

You're covered in roses
You're covered in ashes
You're covered in rain.
You're covered in babies
You're covered in slashes
You're covered in wildernis
You're covered in stains

This is not Mary, the idealized virgin miracle mom, but Mary the real, suffering woman who had the son she loved taken from her in the most brutal manner. It was a powerful close to a movie about war. I've since learned that the writer and singer was Patty Griffin, who is an amazing storyteller gifted with such a simple, pure and honest voice.

The song has made me think a lot about the role of women and Mary in particular in religion. I am no Bible scholar. Until recent years, I probably spent more time actively avoiding anything even remotely churchy than going to it. We weren't super religious when I was growing up, but there was a period when I was carted off to Sunday School each week. My memories from that time of Mary are that while she was definitely on the side of the Goodies, she was always seemed to show up as a pregnant donkey rider, an idealized archetype of motherhood or as a "Jesus' mom is in the house!" footnote, but rarely as a fully fledged personality. No one ever talked about her feelings or her suffering.

But Patty Griffin did...

No comments: