When Thérese was a child, her older sister Leonie decided that she had outgrown some of her playthings. Before giving them away, she offered them to her younger sisters. Celine politely chose a single toy. When it came to Thérese’s turn, she grabbed the entire basket and proclaimed, “I choose all!”
This story illustrates well how this future saint approached the spiritual life. She understood that there are many degrees of holiness and she wanted the very highest degree. “My God,” she cried, “I choose all! … ‘I choose all’ that You will!”
In the early days, women didn’t have charts and apps to track their fertility, but would have known the timing of their cycles by the phases of the moon. In that first month after Gabriel’s visit, Mary would not have felt too different than she had before. It would be months before she would show, and even longer before she would feel Jesus’ little flutters. But looking out at the face of a new moon, she would have known in a very concrete way that what the angel said was true. How her heart must have thrilled with joy!
A world without God digs a valley within the boundaries of our physical reality, so as to be a tyrant over all that is contained within it. Inside those walls, we are master. We can prod and cut and examine the tangible world until she exposes all her secrets. By restricting ourselves to that which can be empirically proven and rejecting any possibility of the transcendent, we get to decide what gives our lives meaning, if it has any at all.
You could think of the carvings depicted in this image as great monuments erected by the people who walked this valley in ages past. A life without purpose is a haunting path to walk.
The thick glass in our ensuite throws the pretty ribbons of light that you see in this painting. I must have looked hilarious with my tripod perched in the tub, a desk lamp clamped to the side, and myself crouching between its spindly legs trying to position my hands just right to catch the most amount of light in the few seconds that the sun peeked from behind the clouds. The awkward reference photo paid off though! This painting was a unique and enjoyable challenge.