mary has been always been a presence in my life.
born at st mary’s hospital, brought up in st. mary’s church, attended marian heights academy for high school, st. mary’s college, now living on madonna place…she keeps hanging around.
and yet, i’m still getting to know her.
the past couple of weeks, she’s been with me. i’ve felt her presence, drawing me ever more closely to her. imagining her pregnant with child, pregnant with possibility, reaching out her hand to me, “come, child.”
after all, i’ve been pregnant with possibility, too. as is our world.
there are truths about mary that strike me differently this year. truths that feel so profound that uttering them feels dangerous. truths that must begin first as a soul’s stirring and then in their crescendo, shake the ground beneath my feet in their proclamation.
mary’s faithful surrender: mary opens her heart to possibility, knowing that there is a far greater story than the one bound by her human body, her human conditions. her knowing, allows for a yes.
mary’s joy and fear: mary does not deny her fear; she does not turn away it from and try to avoid it. she leans in. she goes to her friend, elizabeth, to be in community, to be held, to be together. and there, she finds joy. she brings joy.
mary’s prophetic voice for love and justice: mary’s birthing of possibility brings forth Truth for her that is undeniable. in the face of brutal imperialism, oppression, injustice, she dares to speak–SING!–of a Kingdom of God that was always, already present. her song, the magnificat feels as outrageously bold today as i imagine it did when she sang it.
how dare she?!
this from a teenage, Jewish, refugee girl pregnant and unmarried and considered by the empire to be among the lowliest of the lowely.
mary isn’t the only who has sung this song, at least the essence of it. it’s been sung since the beginning of time by others who went before her and others who have come since. others who dare to believe in the possibility of Love that is not bound by the human conditions that the world hands down to us. the conditions that dictate what “power” and “freedom” look and feel like. these bold leaders and martyrs and prophets and disciples know that there is a much grander Love story available…if we choose.
these stories, these lives are so very threatening.
and because they are, they are often snuffed out too soon. they remove the veil on the lies we’ve been told and bought into, like removing the veil on Oz. the empire will not tolerate these Truths.
and let’s be clear: the empire lives in each of us. we can be our own worst enemy.
i could feel my bit of internal empire alive today as a group gathered in our deepening commitment to become beloved community. we sat in presence to mary and God’s invitation to dare to imagine possibilities, to be in joy in the time of waiting. mary’s life–her choosing–rubbed up against us and the stories passed down to us. questions began to surface around “what really went down”, “what is the full story?”
i could hear myself asking of myself, “how dare you imagine?”
if we can stay with this uneasiness and simply imagine…if we dare to imagine…then we find Love, we find Joy, we find Truth. Always already, here.
mary–in both her flesh and as a symbol–shines the light on the power within each of us to choose and the freedom and responsibility that comes with that choosing.
(thanks to Rev Phyllis Spiegel for sharing this inspiring essay by Debie Thomas, Mary’s Song)