Mary of Nazareth

Blessed is She Who Trusted

visitationvisitation st. elizabeth rockville

“Blessed is she who trusted that the Lord’s words to her would be fulfilled.” (Elizabeth to Mary at the Visitation in Luke).

As we celebrate our sister in life and faith, Mary, on the feast of the Assumption, a rambling reflection:

Blessed is she who trusted that the Lord’s words to her would be fulfilled.

Be with us, young woman who said yes to Mystery;
Pregnant mother who served and celebrated with another,
who knew the movement of life that was Life within you;
Spouse who loved your angel-dreaming Joseph,
who accepted his guarding of your vulnerability and his wonder at your faith;
Donkey-rider and God-bearer, birthmother and safe enclosure for the Son –
first in your womb, then in your arms;

Blessed is she who trusted that the Lord’s words to her would be fulfilled.

Treasurer and holder of moments with shepherds and kings,
with prophetesses and seers, with rabbis who listened to an adolescent Jesus;
Preparer of food, maker of home, holder of moments;
Lover of living, and walker in wonder;
Jesus’ first teacher of prayer, handmaid of the Lord;

Blessed is she who trusted that the Lord’s words to her would be fulfilled. 

Woman, caregiver, daughter, parent, wife, Jew,
Spirit filled and taught and led;
Sufferer of losses; adult orphan, widow, grief-bearer;
Releaser of the young adult Son to seek his path, his way,
as God’s beloved and Kingdom proclaimer;
Empty nester;
New listener to what God says in the new time;
Curious follower of your Son;
Listener and discerner of words spoken by the Word you taught to speak;
First disciple,
Truly our sister.

Blessed is she who trusted that the Lord’s words to her would be fulfilled.

Your son – the Rabbi
Your son – the healer
Your son – who speaks with authority
Your son – Abba’s Son
Your son – storyteller
Your son – Truth, Life, Way – that must be shared and spoken
Your son – passion and compassion
Your son – former of others
Your son – dangerous to the authorities
The mother – In the dark, yet trusting;
The mother – YES lived;
The mother – Heart moved by God’s work in her Son;
The mother – Seer of the threat his goodness is to power
The disciple – Known to the followers;
The disciple – Hearer and keeper of the word of God

Blessed is she who trusted that the Lord’s words to her would be fulfilled.

Swords will pierce your heart, Anna foretold
Jesus will give all to share the message of Abba
Mary, you will give all standing, waiting, watching
How could this have gone so wrong?

Blessed is she who trusted that the Lord’w words to her would be fulfilled.

Cradler of his lifeless body
Mother given to the disciple – to us all
Stunned by grief, uncomprehending
Letting go again
– Be it done, I am Mary, handmaid, magnify-er –
You are God.

Blessed is she who trusted that the Lord’s words to her would be fulfilled.

Waiting, hidden, with his ‘crew’;
Hearing womens’ news that makes no sense,
You know it true
You’ve traveled those roads
Believed her God
Held his Son,
Given your all
Nothing is impossible with God
He will be called Jesus – one who saves – words you heard
Emmanuel – God with us

Blessed is she who trusted that the Lord’s words to her would be fulfilled.

As you companioned the disciples, Mary, companion us;
Teach us your way of being with God, with life, sister-mother-friend-companion;
Root for us and guide us;

We too are blessed. The Lord’s words to us will be fulfilled.
It matters not if we understand them.
He leads, we lean.
We just say yes, and watch in wonder and delight the unfolding.
God is so good, and does good things in us, with us, for us

Today, Mary (one whose name I bear!)
We celebrate you
Your sensitivity and presence to life
Your being as listening
Your agreeing to angel invitations
Your celebrating with community
Your journey through life in all its simplicities and complexities,
celebrations and mournings,
clarities and confusions.
Your joining with your Son, with Abba, the Spirit
at Assumption moment
in ways we cannot understand and yet believe

Blessed is she who trusted that the Lord’s words to her would be fulfilled.



Categories: General, Mary of Nazareth, Saints | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Our Lady of the Refugees and of “High Revolt”: Pope Francis, Compassion, Justice and the Christmastide Mary

Reflections on the Mystery in the Manger, the Word made Flesh, must bring us round to other Flesh that needs our particular care and attention.  In the way that Jesus enters our world and human chronicle we see a sensitivity for the poor, the wandering, the vulnerable.  Pope Francis has been aptly reminding the world of this in his words during this Christmas tide.  I was very struck yesterday, with the words below that he added to his prepared text of his New Year’s Message on the spot.

“What on earth is happening in the hearts of men?
What on earth is happening in the heart of humanity?
It’s time to stop!”

Continuing the daily contributions from word-artists through the Epiphany, January 5th (as promised!), I offer two today in light of Pope Francis’ passionate questions and (indeed) command to our day.  TIME OUT!

The first poem is another of Sister Maura Eichner’s – this one on Mary’s connection to refugees.  In our day, this is more than apt.  If it prompts you to prayer and compassionate advocacy, you might find it a good to check out the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) website on migration and refugee services for further info and action possibilities.  National Migration Week begins this Sunday (fittingly) with Epiphany and runs January 5th-11th.

migration week 2014

Our Lady of the Refugees

Mother who knew
what hardship shakes
a woman bundling clothes
and putting by her wheaten cakes;
Mother who urged the donkey
(making happy riot
on the struggling stones)
urged the beast to be more quiet;
Mother who heard the Child
whimper beneath the thin blue shawl,
our aching prayer cries out to you,
Mother, pray for them all.

A thousand Bethlehems
mask dark tonight,
the lamps of friendly homes
have lost their light;
pathetic heaps of poor and homely things
are laid aside;
a small bird sang where a latched door swings.
Mother whose sad Egyptian flight
preceded all of these,
guide them in faith beneath familiar stars,
Our Lady of the Refugees.

Sister Maura Eichner, SSND

This second piece is poetry-hymnody.  The writer, Frederick (Fred) Kaan, was a United Reformed Church minister, a pacifist, a worker for peace and justice and, in his day, quite active with the World Council of Missions, along with his prolific hymn writing.  He reflects on the Magnificat, and bids us enter Mary’s work for justice.

Magnificat (Hymn)

Sing we a song of high revolt;
Make great the Lord, God’s name exalt:
Sing we the words of Mary’s song
Of God at war with human wrong.

Sing we of God who deeply cares
And still with us our burden shares;
God, who with strength the proud disowns,
Brings down the mighty from their thrones.

By God the poor are lifted up;
God satisfies with bread and cup
The hungry folk of many lands:
The rich are left with empty hands.

God calls us to revolt and fight,
To seek for what is just and right.
To sing and live Magnificat
To ease all people’s sorry lot.

Fred Kaan

Categories: Christmas, Justice-Service, Mary of Nazareth, Pope Francis | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Child’s First Cry Came Like a Bell: L’Engle’s Further Words on Mary

Happy New Year, readers and friends!  May 2014 bring you much joy.

It must be obvious by now that I value Madeleine L’Engle, as friend and wordsmith.

In my young adulthood, I knew she gave writers’ workshops in the summer at Wheaton College in Illinois.  I wanted “someday” to go.  I did not make the “someday”, sadly.  Still, I’ve felt – from childhood on – tutored by her characters, her art, her own journey in life and writing in many ways.  She was a purveyor of intuited truth to the child who munched happily on A Wrinkle in Time, and every subsequent novel.  (I’m thinking of rereading them all in 2014… anyone with me?   And then on to all her other books!)  A high school student gifted me with Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, which wound its way into both my masters and doctoral theses, and a theology of ministry too!  Though we never met in the flesh, I feel I’ve met L’Engle in other ways (perhaps in a kything communion, oh Wrinkle lovers?).  There are many dear writers like that for me – C.S. Lewis comes immediately to mind, with Tolkien and MacDonald, poets, and saints and mystics.  I hope that’s true for you as well.

So, on this day that celebrates Mary as God-Bearer, Mother, Theotokos, solemnly – it seemed fitting to offer you this three pronged reflection on Mary from L’Engle.  The last I shared with you was Young Mary, glimpsing her just past the Annunciation.  Here Madeleine again explores the inner experience of Mary, within the context of the Incarnation-Christmas Mystery.  Appropriately, the third poem below has much to do with Joseph, who sees too little ink, methinks.

I invite you to add a comment after your reading, simply sharing a line/a phrase/a word that speaks to you from all the ones below.  We have a right to hear the Spirit speaking in the context of community, so share a whispering or breeze or gust that blows past you, in a repeated word or three or four from her text, would you?

May Mary and Joseph accompany and guide you to the places you need to be this year to better encounter the Word in flesh.


Three Songs Of Mary

1. O Simplicitas

An angel came to me
and I was unprepared
to be what God was using.
Mother I was to be.
A moment I despaired,
thought briefly of refusing.
The angel knew I heard.
according to God’s Word
I bowed to this strange choosing.

A palace should have been
the birthplace of a king
(I had no way of knowing).
We went to Bethlehem;
it was so strange a thing.
The wind was cold, and blowing,
my cloak was old, and thin.
They turned us from the inn;
the town was overflowing.

God’s Word, a child so small
who still must learn to speak
lay in humiliation.
Joseph stood, strong and tall.
The beasts were warm and meek
and moved in hesitation.
The Child born in a stall?
I understood it: all.
Kings came in adoration.

Perhaps it was absurd;
a stable set apart,
the sleeping cattle lowing;
and the incarnate Word
resting against my heart.
My joy was overflowing.
The shepherds came, adored
the folly of the Lord,
wiser than all men’s knowing.


2. O Oriens

O come, O come Emmanuel
within this fragile vessel here to dwell.
O Child conceived by heaven’s power
give me thy strength: it is the hour.SAMSUNG

O come, thou Wisdom form on high;
like any babe at life you cry;
for me, like any mother, birth
Was hard, O light of earth.

O come, O come, thou Lord of might,
whose birth came hastily at night,
born in a stable, in blood and pain
is this the king who comes to reign?

O come, thou Rod of Jesse’s stem,
the stars will be thy diadem.
How can the infinite finite be?
Why choose, child, to be born of me?

O come, thou key of David, come,
open the door to my heart-home.
I cannot love thee as a king –
so fragile and so small a thing.

O come, thou Dayspring from on high:
I saw the signs that marked the sky.
I heard the beat of angels’ wings
I saw the shepherds and the kings.

O come, Desire of nations, be
simply a human child to me.
Let me not weep that you are born.
The night is gone. Now gleams the morn.

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel,
God’s Son, God’s Self, with us to dwell.

3. O Sapientia

It was from Joseph first I learned
of love. Like me he was dismayed.
How easily he could have turned
me from his house; but, unafraid,
he put me not away from him
(O God-sent angel, pray for him).
Thus through his love was Love obeyed.

The Child’s first cry came like a bell:
God’s Word aloud, God’s Word in deed.
The angel spoke: so it befell,
and Joseph with me in my need.
O Child whose father came from heaven,
to you another gift was given,
your earthly father chosen well.

With Joseph I was always warmed
and cherished. Even in the stable
I knew that I would not be harmed.
And, thou above the angels swarmed,
man’s love it was that made me able
to bear God’s love, wild, formidable,
to bear God’s will, through me performed.

Categories: Christmas, Mary of Nazareth, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

This is the Irrational Season: Mary’s Story

Sitting before the Child in the Manger, and the infinite made tenderly accessible to us, let us glance up at the young mother whose body held more than the universe itself can hold. (Clare of Assisi gave us that lovely image in her letters to Agnes of Prague).  In the midst of spinning stars on a planet small, in a stable smaller still, a woman young in years, yet full of grace and wonderings, looks at her baby boy with love.  Jesus would reach and feed, grow and play, learn and pray, love and work, cry and laugh  – all within the secure boundaries of her loving gaze.  What is Mary’s story?  For story – we remember – holds truth.  

Young Mary of Nazareth’s Story is marked with angels, journeys, questions, magnificats, leaping babes, kin conversation, serving, sorrows, Spirit, stars and ponderings. From angel annunciation, her life has been like the pause before the GPS speaks after a radical turn, “RECALCULATING”.  She’s gone another way, by intuition and by Yes, a way without her knowing and understanding, a way ungraspable and unexplainable (except by angel dreams, it seems, or so faithful loving Joseph found).  

And in this newly twisting tale, her Story and very being – heart and soul and flesh – will give birth to THE Story, the Word expressed in flesh and told in our world and time.  There will be no recalculated voice to explain the ways the Story will unfold in time.  This Story, this Word, invites and calls for faithfulness only. There is no reasoning, GPS security or googlemaps with landmarks.  Only love.  And Love.  For “it is not a matter of reason, it is a matter of love”.*  

So today I offer Madeleine L’Engle to you once more, for I find her word-entries into Incarnation mystery such apt companions for reflection.  I hope you do too.  These two poems take us months back from the Manger Mystery, to the Annunciation change in path.  Find Luke 1, and these, as food on this Feast of the Holy Family.



After Annunciation

This is the irrational season,
when love blooms bright and wild.
Had Mary been filled with reason,
there’d have been no room for the child.

Young Mary

I know not all of that which I contain.
I’m small; I’m young; I fear the pain.
All is surprise: I am to be a mother.
That Holy Thing within me and no other
is Heaven’s King whose lovely Love will reign.
My pain, his gaining my eternal gain
my fragile body holds Creation’s Light;
its smallness shelters God’s unbounded might.
The angel came and gave, did not explain.
I know not all of that which I contain.

* This quote of reason and of love is from the play “A Man for all Seasons” by Robert Bolt


Categories: Christmas, General, Mary of Nazareth, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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