This is the holiday season—Hanukkah, Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa—many different celebrations for many different folks. For me, this season is Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas; a perfect time to proclaim the story of this season that has settled in my heart and bones.
This may be the season where Christmas songs jangle along at every store, but it is more rightly the season of a bold and wild woman.
Mary was no passive teenager. She listened to the outrageous invitation by an angel, who then waited with bated breath for her answer.
She considered carefully the request to bear the infant Jesus, one knit of a pure union of the flesh and blood of a human and the breath and spark of the Spirit of God. Divine alchemy for all of creation.
Mary decided she was willing to break laws and protocol, risking shame and banishment. Her YES took the courage of a powerful and grounded young woman, wise and courageous beyond her years.
Mary was grateful that the Angel sent her to a woman who could understand the magnitude of the earthquake that shook her life. Someone else who recently had her own life turned upside down by an untimely pregnancy; Cousin Elizabeth.
Elizabeth, pregnant in her advanced years, knew and understood. As soon as Mary arrived in her home, without saying a word, Elizabeth and the baby in her womb leaped with joy.
Mary, with the divine Word in her belly, preached the Good News. Her words proclaimed a new way of ordering life on earth, a way that would bring a depth of vitality for everyone. But to those who were invested in things staying the same, those who wanted to hold on to their own power, her words would be heard as bad news.
These were dangerous words. Traitorous words. Mary, filled with rejoicing, breaks into her prophetic song:
God has shown strength;
scattering the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
Bringing down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifting up the lowly;
filling the hungry with good things,
and sending the rich away empty. (Luke 1:51-53)
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months before she returned to Joseph, a man also visited by angels and bold enough to say YES. Tongues wagged around town at this scandalous couple.
Thirty-three years ago, I walked through advent with a pregnant belly, awaiting the birth of my daughter. She was filled to the brim with Spirit, one so fresh from heaven. At the same time, her unique body, just right for this world, was being knitted, one cell at a time safe under my heart.
While my belly stretched, she was preparing for her birth into this world that would be her home. An Earth so beautiful and varied beyond imagining: Land and sea. Light and dark. Insects and elephants. Neighbors nearby and around the globe.
I was excited to experience life alongside her curious eyes.
But more was required of me, mother of this child.
I knew that her body would be seen through the eyes of a culture that had expectations and assigned relative “value” based on details of her precious body – including the color of her skin and her gender. From my own experience, I also knew that shards of this crazy cultural injustice would weasel their way into her bones, tempting her to believe the lies.
Mary and her child Jesus of so long ago, pointed the way. Rejoice. Dance in God’s mercy. Love your neighbor. As yourself. Always remember the presence of God in our world and in each other. Live in the Kingdom of God, now, right here on earth as one part of the family of creation.
Advent: the season of wild women willing to take bold risks to carry the seeds of New Life.