I stopped nursing my youngest child two years ago, but it still happens when I hear a particularly frantic newborn crying in the mall, or at church, or on an airplane. The vulnerable, lamb-like bleating goes straight through me - and strangely enough, my body reacts.
It used to happen all the time when I was breastfeeding. A few seconds after I’d start nursing, I’d feel a familiar tingle - a slightly painful prickle really - and I knew my milk was on the way. I was going to be able to soothe, comfort, feed, and care for my child.
After all the mocking, after all the spitting, after they stripped him naked in front of everyone, after she watched him carry that heavy cross all by himself, after they crucified him, after he cried out to God like a vulnerable little babe...
After all that, here’s what I know: Mary felt that familiar tingle - a slightly painful prickle really - and her milk let down for her son, for the people who hurt him, for the two criminals who were hanging beside him, for his friends who had abandoned him, for everyone and every living thing.
I know what happened on the cross was important. I know the Christ event changed the world as we know it. But somewhere, deep down in my body, I know that when Mary was bent over at the foot of the cross, her milk let down, drenching her shirt, leaking onto the ground, running right down that hill outside Jerusalem: soothing, comforting, feeding, and caring for the whole world.
Thanks to Leandro Pena for capturing Michelangelo's breathtaking Pieta.