This gold and blue mosaic, created in the year 1000, is titled Virgin Orans and is found in the Church of Saint Sophia, Kiev. Orans means ~ interceding in prayer.
Mary's arms are stretched up and out, as if in her prayer she is uniting heaven and earth. Indeed, her gesture forms a kind of cup or vessel. Mixtures take place in vessels, here: visible and invisible, earthly and spiritual, seen and unseen. Sometimes the icon is called: Mother of God ~ Broader than the Heavens - that the prayers of the Mother of God know no limit, are as vast as the longings that fill human hearts.
And this is the method of the Intercessions that are posted here each Thursday in anticipation of Sunday. Those intercessions seek to pray about everything that's truly needful, including the things some people would say are just impossible. So the question is not, Do these prayers work but rather, In my own prayer does my vessel-like-heart hold the life of this planet?
Notice that while Mary interfaces with us in the great mosaic, her eyes don't meet ours. Perhaps she is looking over the great crowd of humanity all the way to the back where the most forsaken people are found, like the little Publican in the gospel who keeps his eyes to the ground, praying from the back of the temple (Luke 18:9-14). Mary sees humanity burdened and degraded - all the living things of the planet greedily exploited. She models the disposition of our own prayer.
Have we read it mindfully? Mary's Magnificat prayer is bold (Luke 1:46-55) and so the Sunday intercessions are bold - like any mother's heart-requests on behalf of her child, especially when that child is sick, leftout, ridiculed, fearful, falling behind, lost, threatened or abused.