When I was writing Mary Walks, I went down a deep rabbit hole of research. I not only needed to get the details right, I wanted to. It was the only way I could authenticate what I already knew deep in my bones and heart. I read not only the Bible, but the Gnostic Gospels, biographies of Jesus and Mary, and books on the geography, architecture, clothing, and culture of the times.
I am also a writer who needs to experience things first before I can write them (if I were an actor, I would totally be a method actor). I wanted to go to Jerusalem and walk the paths that Maryam walked. Unfortunately, when I was in the throes of writing the story, travel to Israel was inadvisable. It’s always been a hostile land; I guess anything deemed the “Holy Land” contains a lot of pressure within its borders.
So, instead, I read a book called The Holy Land, which was sadly ruined recently in a basement flooding where I was keeping all of my drafts and resources. I tried my best to visualize the path Maryam walked every day to the spring, what the air felt like on her skin, and how the salt tasted in the air when she finally got to the Sea of Galilee.
I never physically got there…in the more than twenty years that I’ve held, written and released this book.
But Maryam did.
She finally got home.
My soul sister, Lola Manekin, made her way to Israel to dance with their Nia community; her own dream coming to fruition. On the morning that she was supposed to leave, I woke with a start. I texted her and asked her to take one of my cards with her and place it in a coffee shop, not as a promotion, but as a symbol. Of Maryam coming home. I didn’t hear from her for a couple hours, and I panicked, thinking that I wouldn’t see her, and I would miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. She texted, “Of cooooourse yes!”
Lola sent me this picture of where she placed it, at the entrance to the old city of Jerusalem. Where, I have no doubt, Maryam placed her feet, one after the other. In my story, Maryam saw her first horse in the Old City, not labeled so then. I cried because it was perfection. I felt in my bones, in my heart, that this entire journey has unfolded exactly as it should be, that—if not me—only Lola could have delivered her home.
They say (who the universal “they” is, I have no idea) that when a presence such as Mary, an archetypal essence, passes from this realm, she’s fragmented into seeds that then land in the hearts of many. I have oftentimes not only felt, but had visceral dreams, that I was Maryam in a past life. I’ve dreamed of her body as my own skin, of her sacrifices as ones I made. People have even said they see Mary Walks as an autobiography of mine and not a historical tale. As I’ve opened up about the novel, so many women have told me they thought the same of themselves. That they’ve worked with the Virgin Mary energy in their healings. So who knows, maybe I am a direct descendant? Maybe many of us are.
But I’ve come to realize that even though I feel her, not just in my womb anymore but completely embodied within me, that even though her story was the one I was born into, Mary isn’t mine only.
I know that she doesn’t belong to me. When I was holding her, I was afraid to release her into the world—I was afraid of what the world would do to her—I was protecting her to my detriment and to her own. She isn’t just mine. She doesn’t just walk through me; she belongs to us all.
And because of this gift, she very viscerally walked back home through the feet and heart of Lola.
This journey is not what I ever expected. It’s beyond in so many ways. And it’s just beginning.
So, thank you, Lola, for taking Maryam home. And for taking my heart with you to the Holy City.
And to you all, may she walk for you, in you, through you. May she soar.