16 December 2013

Mary: Blessed

highly favoured one,
the Lord is with you;
are you among women.

Shaken around
in the middle of the night
by an old donkey
and labour pains.

Standing in the cold
before locked doors,
a shape unsightly
and forbidden.

Crying in the rain
with you in my arms,
my child; my God -
a sword through my soul.

to bear on my body
the shame of you,
the foolishness of God.
Full of grace.

My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my Spirit has rejoiced
in God my Saviour.

[October 2010] 
[Commentary December 2013]
Mary is sometimes called the "Blessed Virgin Mary" - but her life was not at all easy and probably not what many of us would, at first sight, find particularly "blessed" (depending on how you define blessing). Becoming pregnant out of wedlock must have caused some scandal, rejection and ostracism (would conservative Christians accept Mary if she came knocking at their door, or would they send her to the stable or even leave her outside in the cold??). Being the mother of the Messiah was not all roses. She had to flee to Egypt with a baby, live in a foreign country. Afterwards she had to put up with the strange things Jesus did and the Gospels show us she did not always understand. In the end, at the cross, she had to watch her child die a gruesome death.

Mary chose obedience - obedience is not the easy way. But nonetheless, she can be called blessed. Because God's ways are higher than ours, and Mary recognised that. Obeying God and doing His will can be hard, but it is worth it, because HE is worth it, and knowing His love is better than anything. Are we willing to go as far as Mary did, to say YES to God even if it means pain, rejection, and loss? Can we, like Mary, still sing the Magnificat - see beyond our own pain to what God is doing for the world, and doing through us for the world?

Here's a story from Chiara Lubich that has been inspiring me lately: she was asking God why he had not left a way for Mary to remain present among us the way Jesus is. And then she felt his answer was: I did not leave her with you, so that you can be another Mary. (or something like that)
Protestants need more of a "Mariology", if only to recognise her as the important example for the Christian life she can be.

In case you're interested in the cogs and wheels stuff behind the poem:
stanza 1: Luke 1:28 / The Annunciation
stanza 2-3: Bethlehem
stanza 4: beneath the cross (had the Pietà in mind) (and Pergolesi's Stabat Mater keeps playing in my head every time I even glance at this poem). I honestly can't think of Christmas without thinking of the cross. Important here is also Simon's prophecy from Lk 3:23, "a sword will pierce through your own soul also."
"My child, my God" reflects how Jesus is at the same time fully man and fully God.
stanza 5: see 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 
stanza 6: the Magnificat / Lk 1:46-55
And the Beatitudes were at the back of my mind a bit too; though I did not succeed in weaving them in the way I wanted to - until I wrote the German version of this same poem, which is a little different mainly in that it's closer to the Beatitutes.

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