“Be not afraid.” How could I be frightened engulfed in the glorious Presence!
The Wisdom alive in my heart and body spoke the fiat –the
“yes” that echoes still today. Although now a woman,
the innocence of my child heart overflowed with joy as we flew over
dusty roads and criss-crossed fields to be with Elizabeth. Little
did I know the same strength of innocence was to carry me through
the days and years. Neither of us said a word, we did not need
to. As we clung to each other, Elizabeth’s baby John kicked
his own greeting and sent us into peals of laughter. How could
this be happening to us? One so young and one so old.
We rejoiced in the wonder of the Mystery as Zachariah looked on dumbfounded.
From his holy silence he embraced the Mystery, if not completely confused
at least mildly so.
Longing filled my days – waiting to see my baby Jesus; look into his eyes,
caress his skin, enfold him tenderly and gently nurse him. But also,
I did not want these wonderfully intimate days to end.
I remember periods of quiet waiting, resting in the olive grove caressing
my belly, softly singing simple lullabies passed down from my grandmothers’
grandmothers and those of my own making. Private hymns meant only for
my baby Jesus.
We have walked miles – Joseph, Jesus and I. I am weary and feel that
soon he will be born. Joseph is restless. I sip warm herbal tea
consciously caressing my very swollen belly and humming the lullabies we
have made our own. Jesus is resting, preparing for his own life’s journey.
In the gospel reading, Luke tells us that the shepherds keeping watch
over their sheep “were struck with great fear” by the
same glorious Presence. Unlike Mary, their personal experiences have
tarnished their innocence. They and others and I have often
been distracted by “voices of bad advice.”*
Finally, “…the time came for her to have her child and
she gave birth…She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid
him in a manger…” The beauty and innocence of the
scene is stark and arresting. A very innocent woman/mother/child
generously offers the newborn she has carried, cared for and sung
to for nine months to be food for others – laying him in a manger,
the animals trough.
Look at him – he is beautiful! Tiny finger nails, grasping
hands, strong feet, loving brown eyes, eager to be held. He
is looking at me – he knows who I am, he loves me already.
He is hungry and I nurse him. Joseph, be with us, sing to us,
wrap us all together in the protective warmth of your shawl.
“And suddenly there was a multitude of heavenly host…,
praising God and saying:
‘Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on
whom his favor rests.’”
The Christmas story invites me to return to the strength of
my own innocence. Mary in her joyful trusting innocence beckons
me to listen to, to be with the Wisdom that dwells within me –
in my heart and in my body. I am invited to be swaddled in the warmth
of God’s intimate love. The Christmas story is about God’s
trust in me – coming to me, loving me, abiding in me.
The Mystery we call God is with me always – in my innocence,
in my sharing the word, in my confusion and in my silence. The
Mystery that is God is with me in my weariness, in my fears and longings
and always with me in my vulnerability. The Christmas story
is forever the same and forever new!
Rejoice and sing glory to God!
*Mary Oliver from her poem The Journey