Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Magnificat

"My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers."
~Luke 1:46 - 55

Of all the people in the Bible, Mary is the one that is hardest for me to see as a real person. Whether it's my Protestant background that gave Mary about five minutes attention once a year when picking the prettiest girl at church to play her in the Christmas play or having seen too many paintings of stylized Madonnas nursing cherubic halo crowned babes, I don't know. She is just hard to break out of the box.

How can one envision a God bearer? Part of being a Christian for me is seeing myself as a receptacle for God's will, a conduit through which a greater purpose is fulfilled and a role is completed. It's a position right on the crest of receptivity and intense action that may be either simple or impossible without the grace of God. I haven't found it an easy role to fill with just my place in the body in the Christ, the one I'm still figuring out as I go along.

I have found the blessings of the Lord to be wonderful things; peace when peace can be found no other place, when the world tells me that peace is the last thing I deserve, hope when everything looks its blackest, strength when I have none left, a deep kernel of joy when the happiness derived from circumstance has been gone for a long, long time, an assurance of purpose and meaning when chaos is all I see. Honoring the standards of my religion hasn't always been easy. When you see people operate out of hatred, violence and greed, finding a way to love them, to even see them as ever having been lovable can seem impossible. Seeing the hypocrisy of people within Christianity is so easy. Believing that God wants and loves me as an individual sometimes seems beyond the realm of possibility, and then in that ineffable, mysterious way, God shows me that He or She does, that I can do what is asked of me. Beyond that, I find that I want to, more than anything, even though I may fear what is asked as much as I desire it.

So, what would it be like to be Mary? I envision a thoughtful girl with tremendous dignity. How else could she have survived the ridicule of her community? When I think of her visit to her cousin Elizabeth, I imagine it was a form of being sent away to distance the shame from her family. This was no meek and submissive girl though. I see her as humble, definitely aware of the greatness of what she was called to do, probably unsure as to why she was chosen. She had to be more than some mute enigma wrapped in blue, riding a donkey to Bethlehem. She had to be more than the slightly bossy mother telling her son what to do at the wedding in Cana.

Virgin. Holy Mother. Madonna. God-bearer. Chosen of the Lord. Singer of songs. Enigma.

She is too much to comprehend, but I know when I think of Mary, I am reminded that I can do that to which I am called. I just have to listen.

If you would be interested in an earlier meditation of mine on Mary, look at my poem Three Marys. It refers to the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethesda. The link is in the sidebar under My Poems.

Christianity, Mary, Advent meditation

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Blogger Gannet Girl said...

I just came back from Lessons and Carols and have I ever got a poem for us for tomorrow! Great post. It's really too bad that we Protestants have left most of the players out of the play.

December 17, 2006 8:07 PM  
Anonymous Lisa :-] said...

I know how the Protestants knocked the "Mary Worship" practiced by the Catholics. Interesting to read yours and Robin's thoughts...

December 18, 2006 2:54 AM  

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