A Joyful Witness.

By: Jen Shoop

Earlier this week, I attended a May Crowning at my children’s parochial school. My daughter and her classmates processed, with startling solemnity, towards a statue of Mary, crowned her with flowers, and recited prayers and petitions from the garden bed at her feet. A huddle of parents — mostly mothers — stood watch under the shade of tree, nodding encouragingly as their children recited their prayers. I was tossed back to my own childhood, to singing “Hail Holy Queen” on Massachusetts Avenue as I marched with my classmates into the vestibule of Annunciation Church with my gray plaid jumper and my navy blue Mary Janes. Even as a child, I was struck by the holiness of the tradition. Something about moving from the shock of May sun into the cool of the Church’s nave, the way sound traveled differently inside, marked the offering as sacrosanct. From the unkempt wild to the quiet, cosseting pleat.

So there I stood, some thirty years later, listening to my daughter read her benedictions off a laminated piece of construction paper. When the children recited the Hail Mary, and the parents chimed in, I caught sight of a cross-generational accordion of faith, and found myself unable to finish the prayer. I was thinking about my mother, kneeling and weeping at Mount Koressos, and my own special devotion to Mary, and wondering what my daughter was storing about this moment in her secret wells of imagination, and memory, and faith.

Towards the end of the crowning, one of the teachers read a little card from which she described Mary as “a joyful witness of others.” I thought how perfectly the phrase captures not only Mary as we understand her forbearing yet exuberant spirit, but my broad aspirations as a mother. Isn’t it the goal? To stand alongside my children, but not in some prop-like, self-abnegating way — to be roundly present, and let myself be delighted by them. I looked around at all of the mothers circling that garden bed, beaming at their children and participating in their prayers, and I saw a perfect chaplet of joyous witness.



+A reflection on my grandfather.

+These are the good ol days.

Shopping Break.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through the links below, I may receive compensation.

+OMG! This chic embroidered caftan reminds me of the super expensive ones from La Vie Stylehouse, but a fraction of the price!

+This gorgeous white dress is en route to me. Becoming quite the fan of Rixo — their dresses make me feel like a sexier, more European version of myself. (You might recall how much I love this dress, which I wore recently!)

+Two great new arrivals at J. Crew: this dress and this impossibly chic raffia tote.

+Speaking of raffia, this COS steal is distinctly Khaite-like. (Compare with her — 13x the price!)

+Adorable shorts set for your mini.

+Several Magpies have raved about Quince’s fitness wear — I just ordered these leggings and the matching tank to try when I placed my order for their silk pillow case. (Another Magpie rec — so many of you insisted that sleeping on a silk pillowcase is a major step-up for hair care / extending a blow out / etc. See all the rave reviews in the comments on this post.) Will report back on all!

+Speaking of hair care: devotees of Crown Affair products might be excited to try their brand new texturizing mousse.

+Eyeing one of these soft-sided coolers for summer. (Love the green color.)

+If you’re looking for a perfect summer flat: here she is.

+FUN Gucci tote capitalizing on the “jelly” trend in its own way.

+Apparently, Jones Road releases limited edition sets of their popular miracle balm sets, and they’ve just landed. I’m contemplating ordering this set of four to sample the different colors! Have heard such good things about these.

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14 thoughts on “A Joyful Witness.

  1. Thank you ever so much for the poignant post, it brought me back decades to what we called the May procession. The devotion to Mary the one and only Queen is a comfort to all women. Wonderful memories that will always be with us.

    1. I’m so glad this touched you — the May processions were such a strong and formative memory from my childhood, too. Thanks for writing in 🙂

  2. The way you so eloquently describe motherhood is truly a treasure! Some posts I come back to repeatedly and this is definitely one of them!

  3. Great post Jen! Hail Mary is my favorite prayer and love the joyful witness comparison to us as mothers, so accurate. Thanks for sharing.
    Loving that Gucci jelly tote, may need to get that one!

    1. I have a leather purse from Quince and I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality. It also shipped directly from the factory in Italy (!) which I was not expecting.

      1. I haven’t tried the suitcases but have been impressed with the quality of everything I’ve tried from there!

  4. I want sooo much to love Jones road. To the extent, I’ve tried it twice. It is pretty and looks nice. But my hair sticks to my face when I am wearing the base make up or the Miracle Balm. What am I doing wrong?!!!

    1. Oh no!! Interesting – maybe finish with a powder blush? A makeup artist told me many years ago to always “seal” a gel/liquid blush with a powder one. I don’t always follow it but I do find makeup stays better when I layer a light dusting of powdered bronzer/blush over the top of the gel formulas.


  5. Hi Jen, I love the white Rixo dress and am curious if you’d recommend the regular or petite version (I’m 5’3)… I’m a bit worried about the scoop neck being too low on the regular version but I love a longer length on the bottom for DC summers (mosquitos). Thank you!

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