“She was deeply disturbed by these words…”
Tuesday, 8 December 2020
I often recall those powerful words when thinking about Mary. “We hope to be at our end, what she was at her beginning, full of grace.” It speaks to today’s celebration and the fundamental challenge to live grace-filled lives amidst very complex, contested and uncertain times.
It has a special resonance as we live through these days of the pandemic. I have found it helpful to remember that the beginning of Mary’s significant journey of faith, her public witness to the things of God was shrouded in what she couldn’t make out, had no ready answers for, in what unsettled her. That is undoubtedly how most of us experience life for long periods. Given the year we have endured, many will rightly come to the crib deeply disturbed, with questions that can’t be answered glibly.
All of this is okay. It is emotionally and spiritually healthy to own such feelings and even healthier to explore them. It is, however worth remembering that for Mary what began in disquiet and deep questions ended in a joyful encounter with her cousin Elizabeth. She sings “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.” We might well ask what has brought about that transformation. There are probably many answers.
One that always speaks to me is that she made a journey across very significant spiritual and historical landscapes. She made a journey through places like Shiloh and Jericho, places which spoke of Gods accompaniment of the people through contested times, during conflicts and in the vortex of struggles.
Her journey had challenged her, no doubt, to ponder Gods faithfulness, to learn from history and to rejoice in her people’s agency during tough times. There was embedded in those places also a narrative of resilience mixed with a strong sense of hope. Our times call for women and men who seek to change the future by learning the lessons of the past anew amidst a commitment to be bearers of hope.