Thursday, December 25, 2008

Not a Usual Christmas Post

I have been thinking a great deal about Mary during this Advent season. A woman who also must have felt uncertainty and dread in those months prior to the birth of Jesus, a woman who also spent Christmas among strangers in an unfamiliar place, a woman who also would experience motherhood as a sword that would pierce her heart.

Last week I received a note from a Presbyterian minister whom I had just met ~ I believe I've mentioned the extraordinary things people have written to me in the months since our son died ~ in which she said that she, too, knows what it is to live on what seems like another planet, one on which the rules of gravity differ from those we thought we understood. I suspect that Mary felt that weight as well.

And yet, she remained loyal to the gift of radiant light entrusted to her. Denise Levertov's poem Annunciation ascribes to her "courage unparalleled" in responding with dignified assent to the life to which God invited her.

Perhaps it is the paradox of Christmas that we are invited to both. To the extent to which we welcome and participate in the life of Christ, so we will enter into the weight of suffering that pervades our world. And perhaps the reverse is true as well: to the extent that we absorb that suffering, so we will encounter the astounding love of our Creator that makes God's donation of self to us possible, a gift offered in our own form, as one of us, through one of us.

This year, unable except on rare occasions to glimpse anything beyond my own grief, I can only speculate. But perhaps, if we wait, in the mysterious paradox of Christmas we find hope and confidence and joy as well.

And so. I wait.


Stratoz said...

"And perhaps the reverse is true as well:..." I can only speak for myself... there is no greater truth.

and I can say to, "why is this path so hard?" ... because the joy is so great.

May you (and I) be aware and open to both today and all days.

Sarah S-D said...

perhaps not a usual christmas post, but an honest one, a real one, and a true one. mary surely had heaviness in her pondering... there was darkness into which light broke... it is all a part of the story.

one of my profs said he imagined i didn't really experience advent this year as my christmas came on december 5th, i was no longer waiting... but I had had a very long Advent, the past several years combined... so I don't feel shorted.

your Advent reflections have been powerful. may you be held in light however long Advent lasts for you.

sorry to go on and on. i've been thinking of you and praying for you so much. (((((gg))))

RevDrKate said...

That is such incredible paradox, and yet the only thing that makes sense, really, in the end.

Purple said...

And many wait with you.

Anonymous said...

I do continue to add my prayers to those of the others. Beautiful poem, thank you for that.

This year, more than any other, the juxtaposition of the joy of the baby's birth with Simeon's prediction only 8 days later seems to continously be at the center of my thoughts. I think a lot about Mary.

There's a song by a fellow named Steve Bell called A Sorrow for Connaisseurs that is exactly about that part of the story. Don't know if it's something you'd care to listen to right now but in case you're interested, I found a site where you can hear a snippet of it:


mompriest said...

Thinking of you and your family this grief is so unlike yours and for such another reason...but it is nonetheless a very different Christmas because of grief...I too have glimmers of hope and trust that someday it will be more dominant than not...and then, perhaps joy will follow, thinking of you and holding you in prayer.

Beach Walkin said...

Holding you and your family in my prayers. May God's peace cover you.

Kathryn J said...

The homily at my church last night was about how the early church focused on death and resurrection. The paradox is that the incarnation happened at all. I also think of Mary and how difficult her life must have been - from acceptance of the angel's message, through birth, to the cross. I can't completely imagine her reality either.

I didn't expect a usual Christmas post but again found beauty and poignant truth. Thinking of you.

Rev SS said...

Another beautiful reflection ... "the reverse is true as well" has been my experience ... with many others, I wait and pray with you.

Michelle said...

I wonder over and over how Mary held all the moments of her life in her heart, and pondered them...

Peace be with you...and my prayers.

Presbyterian Gal said...

You reminded me of a poem. I couldn't find the one I was thinking of, but I found one even better by Grace M. Jordan:

"As we make it to the top of the hill
and look behind at where we've been,
It's hard to believe we made it, but here we are at last.
Taking a look at what awaits us beyond the next ridge,
Helps us to realize that our lives have been extremely blessed,
by the lives we have touched and the lives that have touched us.
Knowing that the places we will go
will far exceed the places we have been.

So look to the mountains from them we will get our strength,
The places that we have been can scarcely hold a light,
To the joy that will come in the morning from the tears we have shed tonight."

Kathryn said...

Oh my continues to be a privilege to read of your journey. You were so much in my thoughts and prayers at the Eucharist on Christmas Eve and this post brought R S Thomas to mind...Much of the poem isn't relevant, but to cut it seemed wrong too - and goodness, he experienced his own dark night, which dominates so much of his poetry. Here he is more tranquil
by R. S. Thomas

Moments of great calm,
Kneeling before an altar
Of wood in a stone church
In summer, waiting for the God
To speak; the air a staircase
For silence; the sun’s light
Ringing me, as though I acted
A great rĂ´le. And the audiences
Still; all that close throng
Of spirits waiting, as I,
For the message.
Prompt me, God;
But not yet. When I speak,
Though it be you who speak
Through me, something is lost.
The meaning is in the waiting.

May this waiting have meaning one day.

V said...

beautifully thought; wonderfully presented.