Daily Reflection
December 25th, 2004
Joan Blandin Howard
University College
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“Be not afraid.”  How could I be frightened engulfed in the glorious Presence! 

The Wisdom alive in my heart and body spoke the fiat –the “yes” that echoes still today.  Although now a woman, the innocence of my child heart overflowed with joy as we flew over dusty roads and criss-crossed fields to be with Elizabeth.  Little did I know the same strength of innocence was to carry me through the days and years.  Neither of us said a word, we did not need to.  As we clung to each other, Elizabeth’s baby John kicked his own greeting and sent us into peals of laughter.  How could this be happening to us?  One so young and one so old.  We rejoiced in the wonder of the Mystery as Zachariah looked on dumbfounded.  From his holy silence he embraced the Mystery, if not completely confused at least mildly so.   

Longing filled my days – waiting to see my baby Jesus; look into his eyes, caress his skin, enfold him tenderly and gently nurse him.  But also, I did not want these wonderfully intimate days to end.
I remember periods of quiet waiting, resting in the olive grove caressing my belly, softly singing simple lullabies passed down from my grandmothers’ grandmothers and those of my own making.  Private hymns meant only for my baby Jesus.

We have walked miles – Joseph, Jesus and I.  I am weary and feel that soon he will be born.  Joseph is restless.  I sip warm herbal tea consciously caressing my very swollen belly and humming the lullabies we have made our own.  Jesus is resting, preparing for his own life’s journey. 

In the gospel reading, Luke tells us that the shepherds keeping watch over their sheep “were struck with great fear” by the same glorious Presence. Unlike Mary, their personal experiences have tarnished their innocence.  They and others and I have often been distracted by “voices of bad advice.”*

Finally, “…the time came for her to have her child and she gave birth…She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger…”  The beauty and innocence of the scene is stark and arresting.  A very innocent woman/mother/child generously offers the newborn she has carried, cared for and sung to for nine months to be food for others – laying him in a manger, the animals trough.

Look at him – he is beautiful!  Tiny finger nails, grasping hands, strong feet, loving brown eyes, eager to be held.  He is looking at me – he knows who I am, he loves me already.  He is hungry and I nurse him.  Joseph, be with us, sing to us, wrap us all together in the protective warmth of your shawl.

“And suddenly there was a multitude of heavenly host…, praising God and saying: 

‘Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’

The Christmas story invites me to return to the strength of my own innocence.  Mary in her joyful trusting innocence beckons me to listen to, to be with the Wisdom that dwells within me – in my heart and in my body. I am invited to be swaddled in the warmth of God’s intimate love.  The Christmas story is about God’s trust in me – coming to me, loving me, abiding in me.  The Mystery we call God is with me always – in my innocence, in my sharing the word, in my confusion and in my silence.  The Mystery that is God is with me in my weariness, in my fears and longings and always with me in my vulnerability.  The Christmas story is forever the same and forever new!

Rejoice and sing glory to God! 

*Mary Oliver from her poem The Journey

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