Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Little Gift

I couldn't sleep this morning, like most Christmas mornings since the kids have been old enough to tear into presents. I tell them they have to stay in bed until we're up, and always--always--I'm awake before they are because I'm so excited to see them open what we're giving them.

This morning I was awake at 5:30. The appointed time they could poke their heads out of their rooms wasn't until 7:00. I figured I'd keep myself busy and listen for any noise in Henry's room next door to ours. If they were up before 7:00, that was fine, but I wasn't about to go wake them up. (Or wake Eric, which I thought would be kind of cruel. He was up finishing his wrapping until the wee hours.)

I did what I've done in the early morning hours of Christmas Day for the past few years. I read the Christmas story on my smartphone to have a moment of calm reflection before the chaos. To make sure I remember. And oddly, to use something new to put me in touch with something old. (Though someday this reference to my smartphone will seem so dated. So "2013.")

As I read the Gospel of Luke (King James Version, my favorite for this particular story), I was struck by the last part of this:
And the angel said unto them, fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.  (Luke 2: 10-19)
I've been feeling pressure to be a certain way this whole season. To respond to those around me in a way they'd like. To have the right thing to say all the time, or have the right thing to give, or even the right look on my face. To be the right kind of mother, or to look as though I am.

I'm confident that others more qualified than me have commented on that verse, on Mary's reaction in that moment, or at least the way it was illuminated in the Gospel for posterity. I'm confident that there is meaning in it I can only begin to comprehend. But this morning, I was comforted to read "but Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart." To think about the quiet ownership of her reaction that Mary has in that moment. That she keeps these things, ponders them. It's her choice. Her action is beautiful stillness and contemplation.

Again, I'm not qualified to analyze or interpret. But as someone who likes to keep, to consider, and to ponder, myself, I find comfort there. Freedom to be quiet and reflective.

Merry Christmas.

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