This is the sixth Christmas since John and I joined hands that my increasing belly means more than too many munched cookies. That first Advent, with a modest, inaugural baby belly, I was so utterly caught up in the newness of living with my Heart, teaching high school for the first time, and with the inconceivable fact of life growing inside me that I didn't ponder Mary much, if at all.
For every large-bellied Advent since, though, when my thoughts invariably turn toward the coming Messiah, I feel the smallest kinship with His mother and wonder. What were the curlings of her heart as she touched her rounded belly? When she felt the first impossible fluttering of the King's feet? I find it astonishing-- every time-- that God chose me to carry another little soul within; how much more so did she find it that she carried the very Creator of all souls!
Could there be a more confounding road to redemption? The Lord of all worlds entered this earth by birth through a human woman, and He wrapped Himself not in external glory and power but in the paper fragility of human skin. Skin to be bruised, beaten, and broken. A mystery ineffable.
I'm sitting here in a cold house listening to the harsh wind whistle and shriek around every eave and edge. The world outside is cold and bleak, and the wind hurls the snow past the window in a perfect and unbroken horizontal line, but the coming promise of spring lends even this beauty.
Without the Promise, hope fails.
So it is with the Christ.
Mary knew the words of the prophet Isaiah, and perhaps after Christ's death, she saw her Son in them:
Face to glorious face, she heard the mighty Gabriel proclaim that her heart would also be pierced. From the very beginning, her life as mother carried such weight, with joy and sorrow mingling. This is why, during a season of anticipation and true joy, I can't help but remember His death, as well. Life is shot through with death from the second it begins; light with dark; joy with grief. At the same moment that God accepted the cradle, He also accepted the Cross.
Despair is shot through with Hope.
As we continue (in this house, at least!) to celebrate the twelve days of Christmas and to exult in the birth of a newborn Baby, this is indeed cause for joy. May it be so not just for twelve days of the month but for twelve months of this year and in each and every one to come!