Last Christmas, we just needed to survive, to live through it and we didn't have the strength to give future Christmases a thought.. This Christmas amidst the joy of family we had to sit with a gray fog of our own as we accepted the sadness that this was every Christmas - It's a slow, gradual realization; it's not logical or reasonable - but your heart just looks for a reprieve.
"Mary Did You Know" i's a beautiful yet haunting carol. I first heard it years ago sung by a mother/daughter duet in church. Even before I could imagine the scope of a mother's grief, I wondered what Mary knew and what did it cause her to fear. One way or another many of us learn that our children are not really ours- they are God's given to us as gifts - like the parable of the talents. How we raise them, what we equip them to do for the world, for God's kingdom is our gift back to God.
Mary, though, knew from the moment she knew she was with child, that the baby belonged to God. She knew even while the child was a toddler that earthly kings sought to kill him. What did Mary know?
Did she know how the Earth feels when winter's heavy fog drapes over its shoulders and suffocates the light from Summer's sun? Did she feel the same sting of a winter rain that the pansies must feel after enjoying the unexpected warmth of December?
Like electricity that has found its conductor, the lessons charged my soul in an instant. Beyond the miracle of birth and the exquisite gift of motherhood, there is a lesson in how to mourn.
She must have mourned from the moment He was born, her instinct wrestling with the Father of life and the undeniable strength of motherhood. Still, Mary brought more children into the world, was a wife to Joseph, prepared Jesus according to prophecy, followed him to the temple and all the way to Golgotha.
I wonder if she asked God - why?
This constant mourning in the midst of living seems contradictory - kind of like pansies in December. They are growing in my back yard in planters that my family either built or gave to us - each mound turning its golden face toward the sun.
As I pieced all of this together, it was freeing to realize that we could live and mourn, that pansies could thrive in December.