Sunday, December 9, 2007

After the visitors-- part 1

Mary and Joseph received visitors in both Luke (shepherds) and Matthew (wisefolk) after the birth of their son, but what they did next is not something I want to tie together in a historically accurate timeline. In the silence of Wernersville, I sit with each separately and imagine the possibilities of each. Take the child to the Temple or flee to save his life.

LUKE 2:22-38 First time I went with them to the Temple I was amazed at the awareness of Simeon and Anna.

Before going into silence, we chat at dinner where a woman is talking about Zen and mindlessness. I think I see what she was trying to say, but I am baffled, and say that I see it as mindfulness. The call to be present. The will power to be aware of God's unfolding creation. And later reclining in my easy chair, I find two servants of God whose eyes glance upon a poor couple with child and see the savior. I have it so much easier. Four Gospels, thousands of years of tradition and established churches are all here and now to tell me Jesus is my savior. Can I see it as clearly as they did?

Ten hours later I am again traveling with the family to the temple. I hear Simeon's speech to Mary as if it is being directed to me. It ends with these words "... and a sword will pierce your soul too." How did those words sit with Mary? How much for one woman to take? Anna enters the scene and knows that finally her savior has arrived and announces it to all who are seeking the redemption of Israel.

My handout for the spiritual exercises this week reminds me that my goal is to get to Know Jesus, to Love Jesus, and to Follow Jesus. That means I am headed to the cross. Mary will have much more to endure. Mother to a savior is painful business. I know the story, but for her it is still unfolding. But that does not mean that following him 2000 years later is easy.

It takes me to Julian whose sound byte is "all things will be well" But God starts by telling her, "I may make all things well."

Exactly one year ago I flew to California where my sister was suffering. Two strokes, a few blood clots, and then surgery to remove cancer from her ovaries had left her wiped out. The chemo had not even started. Would I have guessed that she would visit us 12 months later? Coming by herself? Are all things well? I don't know. But I do know our God given human bodies can heal in mystifying ways and if there is a 5 year survival rate, than some survive. Sophia renews all things. Jesus reconciles all things. We are small in the midst of all things, but we are a part of it. I think of the strength in my sister's hug after I fed her strudel a few days ago.

My stoic self melts.


  1. My favorite Julian quote is tucked into my breviary and reads:

    He did not say, "You will never have a rough passage, you will never be overstrained, you will never feel uncomfortable," but he did say, "You will never be overcome." God wants us to pay attention to these words, so as to trust him always with strong confidence, through thick and thin. For he loves us and delights in us; so he will that we should lvoe and delight in him in return and trust him with all our strength. So all will be well.

    I'm glad that there was delight for you and your sister, and that all is thus well...

  2. thanks for an advent/nativity post. once again, i want to understand the meaning/story of this time of year for us who live in a western/christian environment.

    (ok, enough with the slashes now, isabella!)

    i only grok little glimpses of this whole christ thing. but the mystery of this time, the anticipation, the seeking for shelter, the moment of glorious birth, the visits by the wisefolk, and then immediately again the stark reality of persecution - these archetypal events resonate with me. (although why did jesus survive and not the other children? how fair is that? think of all the parents who must have been out of their minds with grief. or don't think of them - too painful?)

    so much LIFE happening in these few weeks, in this darkness.

    and yes, good thoughts to you and your sister. what a good miracle.

  3. Michelle-- I love Julian's writing. much truth in your last thought.

    Isabella-- I have some thoughts on the other children.. sitting with it was difficult to imagine being there was painful. I hope to post on the experience tomorrow.


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