My year to consider silence has neared its end and has come full circle. I do not feel I have had any grand epiphanies regarding the role of silence in my life but rather many small yet profound realizations. More on that soon.
My Advent companion has been this gem - A Woman Wrapped in Silence by John Lynch. It is an epic poem, published in 1968, and while I have never yet finished it, I keep coming back to it every few years and beginning again. Here's why:
This was a little child who knew not man,
Nor life, nor all the needed frauds of life,
Nor any compromise, and when she turned
To raise the earthen jar, and faced the airs
Of Spring, she smiled for young security,
And she was glad. These were her own, these lanes
Of Nazareth. She'd known the slope and feel
Of them for all her years, and they had known
Of her, and she was walking now and was
Familiar, and the well she sought not far
Beyond the clustered houses was so old
It had become a part of permanence.
The sky around it was so clear, serene
With blue, and framed with hills that had been hers
For always, and which lifted up a silence
She had loved. These thresholds were her friends,
These white walls leaning, and the narrow doors,
And she could watch the shadows and the slant
Of sun, and turn a corner so, and hear
The farther crowing of a cock, and guess
That in the marketplace were dusty sheep
She could not hear; and passing on, she marked
With deeper care that from an opened window
Rose the sound of psalms. She was at home.
These few streets and the ruts in them were home,
And she was sure, and young, and now the others
At the well had called to her, and said
Among them it was Mary who had come.
You can read more (but not all) at Google Book here: A Woman Wrapped in Silence.
I generally try to reflect on Mary's role in the season of Advent. Last year, that was easy. I was in my first trimester and praising God for feeling so lousy, waiting joyfully for this little one! This year, I was drawn to pull this classic book off my shelf.
[One disclaimer - as I said I have yet to read it cover to cover, and it does not have an imprimatur; it was published by Paulist Press, and I have seen a few goofy things from them. So, read intelligently, my dear readers.]
The first few pages (quoted above) provide me with days of food for meditation. I have always been one of those women who have a hard time turning to Mary. As a mother, I am told, it makes sense to turn to her, because she knows what we endure. But, I know she can't know all of it. She was Created without sin. I wasn't. Boy howdy, I was not! And my children? Well, they are most certainly not God! I mostly feel like Kate's nana.
Yet, with these poetic words, Our Mother is finally accessible to me. I can picture her as a real person, with a personality (whether Lynch's description of hers is accurate or not is inconsequential to me). I can close my eyes and know she really lived on this earth and is not merely some foggy figure I imagine in prayer.
Once upon a time, in deep prayer (I was on a retreat), I was begging Jesus to bring me closer to Him. He seemed far away, as if down a distant, dark hallway. There was always space between us, even though I was moving forward and He was standing still. It was then I realized that I need help. I cannot get to Jesus all by myself. Out of the corner of my mind's eye, I saw Mary (okay, it was really a fuzzy light, but I knew what my imagination was trying to see) approaching me. As I recalled her role in leading us to Christ, I imagined her taking me by the elbow, much like someone would lead a blind person, and guiding me towards Jesus.
Since then, this is how I see Mary. She is loving, as Kate says, the Cause of Our Joy! Her generous heart leads us to her Son always, no matter our failings and weaknesses. She is always there waiting, kindly, lovingly, to help us grow in holiness. Lynch's words of peace and joy that Mary lived are how she hopes to nourish this mother's heart and yours, as well.
This Advent, if you have not done so already, take some time to be with Mary, in the reading of this poem or some other way. Get to know her better. She will lead you to her Son this Christmas.