Of the four children smacking their cocoa-sweet lips and held captive by The Polar Express, one has a birthday this week, two days before Christmas. Ten years ago I was 40 weeks pregnant, great with child. But it wasn’t my first. I had my support in place. Preparations had been made. I knew what to expect, more or less.
In this fourth week of Advent, I love that we light a pink candle to honor Mary. I love remembering that she surrendered to something greater than herself, that she humbled herself to be a servant. She didn’t know . . . she couldn’t know what was in store.
Every time I picture Mary or try to work with any kind of visualization or exercise of lectio divina, I have a sense of what Mary might have known.
What was happening was beyond her control. It wasn’t just about Mary the innocent young woman suddenly expecting child. As with every mother bearing child, from the moment the baby is conceived and grows, the mother can only do her best to keep healthy. The formation of the child is left to genetics and the miracle of life. A mother-to-be can seek the wisdom and comfort of other women to learn all that she can, but when it comes time to birth, there is no bringing forth of life without letting go of one’s identity. Virgin Mary to Holy Mother of Jesus. Can you imagine what Mary experienced alone in that stable? Do you think she found in herself the capacity to pity poor Joseph standing helplessly by? Could there have been a woman from the Inn who had mercy? Such details are left unaccounted.
Next thing we know is that there’s a baby in a manger. Mary has a child, a dependent. This child’s existence depends upon her care and attention. She knows this. With her surrender, though, she knows this child she cares for is not hers alone. She cares for this precious child not only as her own but as one of God’s . . . as God. Did she know this?
Could she truly sense this from the beginning? Could she know the heartache that would come?
From the very beginning, this would be beyond her comprehension. She might never fully understand. She could only do her best to do what was required of her in every moment. She would live fully into each moment, keeping her heart as open as possible to live into the will of God. This would be the best she could do. It’s the best any of us can do.
Oh, that I have the humility to live into every moment with awareness and true surrender. May I raise my children so that they will grow into the beings they are meant to be, not what or how I want them to be. May I have the strength to be a mother of strength, love, and acceptance.
My children are blessings to me. I am surrounded by abundance, and I understand this mother role . . . more or less.