Reviewed by Francis Hammond, Special to ASSIST News Service
UNITED KINGDOM (ANS) — A review can do little to describe just how inspiring and beautiful this story is! Of course it says most of it itself since it tells the greatest story ever told in Mary’s own words, this could not be more telling. However, I am deeply impressed by Dan Wooding’s consummate journalistic skill and sensitive Christian heart in his beautiful, thoughtful portrayal of Mary’s most intimate thoughts and experiences.
I began to read Mary, My story, certainly at the outset, as a devotional exercise, each day leading up to Christmas of 2014, and it gave me a real sense of the Nativity story from Mary’s own perspective. Dan Wooding does this so well and so reverently. As a Protestant I have been aware for some long time that we Protestants did not give sufficient honor to the Blessed Mother of Jesus.
In my early Christian experience it was suggested to me that some tended to “worship” Mary and give her too much honor, sometimes more than her Son. I quickly came to learn that this was not true at all and made it my duty to meet with Catholic friends to pray and share what we Baptist and Catholics had in common more than what we did not. In this activity I came to appreciate Mary’s part as a mother in Jesus’s life and the important role, as well, of Joseph.
She was indeed Highly regarded by God, Blessed among women and truly the “Mother of God”. Dan’s narrative leads the reader through this precious territory with great sensitivity and accuracy. I really felt a sense of what Mary was feeling , I was moved often as I read the reaction of this young girl facing the prospect of an immaculate conception in a social setting and moral atmosphere where the slightest departure from the “proper” behavior could lead to shunning and even stoning. Dan takes us through the difficult territory with enormous journalistic skill and along the way opens our eyes to the profound danger of moral judgment.
We are taken on a journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, meeting many interesting characters on the way. Dan plunges us into the Bible Lands as they were in the first Century AD, and he leads the reader through the fear and horror of the slaughter of innocent children by Herod and the relative peace of the Holy Family’s sojourn in Egypt. We are in the stable, we share the meals and political climate of the time, we see Jesus and Joseph in the carpenters shop. Dan misses nothing out he paints a colorful but careful portrait of the Holy Family and helps us to understand just how important Mary and Joseph are to the complete Christian story.
Dan takes us, with Mary, to the foot of the cross and try, though it is hard, to understand, what Mary went through to see her Son so cruelly treated. He introduces Simon of Cyrene as he carries the cross for an exhausted Jesus, and Joseph of Arimathea who lends his own tomb to the Savior, and many more on this journey.
Dan reveals through Mary’s eyes the suffering of her beloved son in a way that only a mother can understand. As she witnesses His blood so carelessly shed her agony is culpable and a reminder that Jesus bore in such pain spiritually and physically, the sins and suffering of us all, this baby whom she brought into the world is surely the Lamb of God whose hands now cruelly nailed to the cross shaped the very world and the worlds into existence! He never lets us take our eyes away from this truth. Mary’s story leads us to Calvary and we experience the pain of a loving and unpretentious woman, a mother.
Of course she is the mother of God, but most of all in Dan’s beautiful description of her she is simply the mother of her son Jesus, feeling just like every mother in the world the immense pride and protection towards her precious child. Not fully understanding his mission wondering with everyone else at his great wisdom and strength of character and now sharing the agonizing pain of her child’s suffering, powerless to help or relieve his pain. This only a mother can understand and here Dan draws from, I am sure, his experiences as a parent and his observation over many years of his own dear wife, the mother of his children and their love and total acceptance of their children.
Of course Mary’s story ends in triumph she gets to see the empty tomb, we race with her and the others from tomb to upper room, we see the disbelief turn to rapture, Dan, as always with his very special skill, stands there on our behalf watching and listening saying nothing leaving Mary to share her feelings.
This is one of the most admiral abilities of a true journalist the magical skill to tell a story in the third person yet pouring all the drama the joy and the tears into his reader’s mind. This is the real greatness of this book, in my opinion it is priceless and, like every good story, leaves me wanting more! Of course I know the outcome, we all do in so many ways, yet Dan has an ability to satisfy me as a reader totally but, as with his work on other projects, leaves me reluctant to close the last chapter.
Mary’s story is so well known of course, but this book introduces the reader to many hidden gems I hadn’t previously considered that deepened my own sense of worship and significantly widened my understanding of that “old old story” from Mary’s perspective. I recommend this beautiful story to everyone.
If you would like to purchase a copy of this fine book for yourself, or a friend who maybe won’t read the Bible, but would enjoy a novel, just to http://marythebook.com/.
Photo: Book Cover