If you are rich in the spirituality of Benedict of Nursia, Ignatius Loyola, Julian of Norwich or Yoda, you will regarded as a devout, prayerful soul with a rich heritage of deep engagement with God though the work and examples of these fine human folk (unless it is Yoda, in which case you are a Jedi which is reputedly different).
If you are enriched by the spirituality of Mary of Nazareth, you will fast discover a plethora, nay a panoply, of suspicion and confusion about your spiritual motives and the place of the human at the heart of it.
The fact is that your basic Mariology is to many a near-hideous thing that is to be shunned, ridiculed or else cast away as wrong. I have never understood this.
This emerged in a discussion that I was party to recently. Someone wanted to say some prayers in the context of a genuine and sincere Mariology, which is to say, to pray with Mary to the God who loves them both and to the God who chose the Virgin as the noblest vehicle for His grace. Sharp intakes of breath greeted this initiative and not for the firs time. I just don't understand why.
A further discussion in this issue revealed that perhaps the Mariology wasn't the target of the tooth-filtered inhalation but the perceived misogyny that to many it represents. In the minds of many it seems to be - think Mary, think black-clad priests who say "no" to the ladies. It seems that the teenage refugee single-mother from Palestine has become the unwitting poster-girl for the anti-women lobby, but only in the minds of those who have a distaste for said lobby. Indeed, for some Anglicans, it seems that a reverential reference to Mary is tantamount to a claim of that vilest of offenses - membership of the Roman (ugh) Catholic (arrggh) Church.
And it is all ridiculous, Poppy-cock.
Those of us who cherish the place of Saint Mary in our spiritual lives do so for many reasons. For me it is about the absolute trust that she displayed in God though her simple but universe-changing "yes". For me, Mary's example of paramount selflessness when, as Simeon said, "a sword shall pierce your own soul too". For me Mary was the one single human chosen by God for the Incarnation. That surely makes her special, as God had so judged. She was flawed, and she was human - but she was an example to many of how to try and live as Christians. She is a conspicuous example of motherhood and affirmative female ministry, a woman who gave without counting the cost, a woman who watched the agony and death of her own son without looking away, a woman who devoted her entire life to one end - God's plan for our salvation.
That is my Mariology.
There is no voodoo. I haven't turned Mary, in my heart, into a quasi-deity. I pray with Mary and take her example to mould me. I do not pray to Mary as many might think, but simply ask her, presumptuously, to pray for me as, I believe, someone with a unique and special relationship with the Father. When I seek Mary's company in my prayers, it doesn't suddenly morph my theology or my politics. I don't suddenly become a different sort of Christian, or indeed make me want to change my ecclesiology. Indeed, when others seek openly to say some prayers in a Marian spirituality, I simply say 'thank you' that they want to pray at all.