On the practical life side: huge blizzard. Very exciting driving back from church this morning. I had not been planning to return to seminary until 5:30 tomorrow morning because we have Lessons and Carols tonight and I had figured that making a 2.5 hour drive first thing in the morning was preferable to doing it in the middle of the night. Now it seems that maybe both are out. I am going to curl up in my bed in a few minutes with the Greek participles that are indicative of a possible maxing out of IQ and see what happens. The Lovely Daughter ~who has returned from nearly four months of college in Oregon to my delight, joy, glee, and utter happiness ~ and I are going to Lessons and Carols tonight regardless.
On the good memories side: The youngest reader always gets the first of the nine readings in Lessons and Carols, a service which wends through the entire story of salvation and therefore begins with Genesis. When she was eight, the Lovely Daughter was the youngest reader, which meant that as I walked through the halls of the church on this particular day twelve years ago, I could hear the music director rehearsing pronunciation with her: "E-N-M-I-T-Y. And I will put E-N-M-I-T-Y between You and the Woman . . . ." There's always something incongruous on this night that is just right: the voice of the tiniest soprano singing the first verse of Once in Royal David's City in a darkened sanctuary, the gradual and triumphant swell of voices of choir and congregation and organ and (when we're lucky) timpani by the final verse, and then another very small person climbing into the lectern to begin a story of evil and heartbreak that will ultimately end in redemption and joy.
On the Advent side: I woke up this morning thinking of Mary. I had discovered yesterday that a number of people have posted the Tanner Annunciation painting this week, which caused me to look back at my posting of same a year ago and to think about that moment of surprise, in my life and hers. I remember the morning I learned I was pregnant for the first time -- the stick turning blue in the bathroom, the quiet house, the yellow walls in the bedroom as the winter sun rose, the triumph and hope of my own after months of disappointment and frustration and the beginnings of what looked to be a long slog through medical machinations. Now, twenty-three years later, I look back and think of all that I did not know that morning. I did not know that a year later I would have twin boys to nurse through the Christmas Eve service, I did not know that twenty-three SECONDS later my three children would have turned into adults, and I did not know how much joy and sadness in would be possible to experience in between those years.
As for Mary, I'm going to look for another piece of art to post, but here's what I wrote last year when I was thinking about Tanner's work:
Last year about this time I came to the realization that the Mary we think we know, the demure, humble, and modest young woman of Nazareth, probably bears little resemblance to the real Mary. It seems to me that the Mary so often portrayed in art and music and story may represent the blind misreadings of a patriarchal church of the subsequent 2,000 years more than she does the real girl who found herself in something of a predicament and decided to honor the gift and the challenge.
Just think about the fourteen-year-old young ladies you know and imagine the attitude it would take for them to stand up to parents, fiance', extended family, and friends in Mary's circumstances. Imagine the courage. Imagine the sense of being enfolded into the wildest plan God could imagine and recognizing the pivotal role you are being asked to play. Imagine bearing God's peace and justice into this world.
Imagine the light.