I spent all week arguing. Arguing with my body while it decided to be ill, arguing with my head while it decided to ache not think, arguing with anyone who would listen or read. I even spent the first week of Advent arguing with Henri Nouwen, which either signifies bravery or arrogant stupidity. He was talking about compassion, acceptance, surrendering ourselves – and I couldn’t join in. There was too much inside me.
For me Advent is always about rediscovering my Father – Our Father. As a child, my family was distinctly non-nuclear – it did not fit the standard of husband, wife and children, although those relationships existed within the household. So now that Nouwen is inviting me to rediscover Mary, I feel as though I am back on safe ground. My illness appears to have gone, my brain appears to be working – my heart is reopened. My Mum died years ago, but we had a great relationship. We were close, we trusted each other, we could walk out of one another’s heads and finish each other’s sentences. We looked alike, we sounded alike. Of course, this meant when we argued, it was spectacular. If someone seems very close to you, it’s a shock to discover difference. It’s why it hurts when someone you love thinks differently. It’s why in any close relationship, small differences can get blown out of proportion.
But the point is that where there is love, we can reach out to each other. You may or may not be able to relate to Mary as a pattern for relationship. Her instant obedience, for example, is alien to me (yes, I know. I’m working on it). But as an example of love and relationship, she isn’t a bad place to start. Not by a long chalk.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.