Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Conversation with Mary: Contemplating the Magnificat

And Mary said . . .
I’m thinking – what on earth do I have that connects with Mary – I was never Mary – yes, I was young once, but I was never that good, that willing, that open, that sure, especially when I was young, to entertain the possibility, let alone the actual visitation, of angels.  Then I read in the footnotes that other manuscripts identify the speaker not as Mary, but as Elizabeth.  Gold.  For like Elizabeth, I am now well past my sell-by date.  Old I don’t have to remember – I’m living it.  But imagine being pregnant now?  You’ve got to be kidding me!  Seriously!  Yes, babies are blessings – but now?  No.  No.  No.  

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
My soul can magnify the Lord – at least I hope so, for I know the Lord has magnified – made larger, made more – my own.  And I do rejoice.  Not enough in relation to all I have been blessed, I’ll grant.  But I do joice and re-joice – for the favor of God’s looking and saving and being and doing.  And sometimes, others join my dancing joy or I theirs, and it is magnificent and I thank God for them too – the dancing ones, for they show me the face of God I can seldom see on my own (I’m still that angel-missing gal).

Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

How I wish we knew you as Blessed Mary rather than Blessed Virgin, as if your sexual maturation (or rather its lack) is the blessed thing about you, instead of your Mary-ness, your kind goodness, your openness to the preposterous, your willingness to serve at such great cost.  I love the Pieta and I get the theology of your youth, but really – a mother holding her dead son in her arms grows old in an instant.  Blessed are you, Mary, Mother of God, for going the distance . . . for trading your youth for an eternity of sorrow . . . for his sacrifice was yours too, wasn’t it?  Every mother of every son or daughter knows it to be true.  So for all of us, thank you, Mary and thank you, God, for giving us a Mary.  Her price paid is not one to ever wish, but now done, it is received with such gratitude.

His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
. . . for those . . . who?  From generation to generation – I’m guessing that means a people whole and not merely a collection of individuals.  But for those who fear?  What am I to do with that, coming from the mouth of the mother whose son’s most frequent command was that we “fear not”?  Maybe fear means awe or reverence or respect.  While I suspect that’s probably true, I still don’t know quite what to do with that, because the word ‘fear’ is so freighted in my time – carrying as it does the weight of so very many things and people to be afraid of.  Am I to fear God like I fear the Hitlers of the world or the baby Hitlers who so happily dwell within me?  Let it not be so.  The very mercy of the mercy seat is what allows me to come to You, Lord, joicing and re-joicing rather than trembling.  So totally Other, of course I fear the all-of-You.  How could I not?  But You have, in that very mercy, bade me welcome, and fear has turned its head as the confidence of a beloved child approaching the Giantess of a mother takes root within me.  Fear?  Ah, Mary, what are we to do with that?

He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.  He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
I love this vision . . . until I remember that I am rich.  I adore this promise . . . until I remember that I am proud.  I treasure this inevitability . . . until I remember that I, too, am powerful.  Now do I begin to understand the fear of the Lord.  And I tremble . . . like Jefferson, I tremble when I recall that You, Lord, are just.

He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
How, Mary, did you become spokesperson for a nation, for a people, for a world?  How was your vision so large that you could see a nation in the thought of an idea of a promise that is a baby first formed?  And which promise, exactly?  It sounds so king-like, so grand, doesn’t it?  But where’s the proof?  We’re two thousand years or so on and still we wait, still we wonder, still we doubt.  So where’s the proof?  There is no north star, no magi, no manger, save in our imaginings, for us.  Paul’s the best we’ve got – our faith actually is the proof.  But sometimes, that grows a bit thin, now, doesn’t it?  Off my high horse, I contemplate you beholding your son, dead from a cross, and know you saw the face of the baby you once held in your arms.  But I wonder, when you held the baby, did you see the son dead from a cross?  It wasn’t any easier for you than for us, was it?  No – it was much, much harder.  I am so sorry for your loss and more than a bit guilty that it was my gain.  From one mother to another, I am just so sorry.


  1. Beth: Thank you for your pearls of wisdom, theological & nourishing...Namaste

    1. Thank you, Tara, so much. May your Advent be blessed with surprise and wonder, love and the nourishment of receiving as well as giving. Beth