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Mary's Wilderness

John the Baptist (and Dean Kate) reminded me yesterday of the wilderness of Advent, the liminal time and space of waiting and the unknowing of what lies ahead. Though the readings from the third voice of Isaiah today assure us of the unconditional invitation to be loved by God and to receive all that we really need, time in the wilderness still looms.

Wilderness can be dark and daunting, and it can prevail and suffocate us if we do not manage it. The thickets of worry and fear, hunger for peace and relief can blind us to answers. I wonder what Mary thought as she wondered and wandered through the wilderness of an inexplicable pregnancy, one she said yes to but never fully knew what lay ahead of her.

Madeline L'Engle's beautiful poem "Young Mary" captures well some of the thoughts Mary might have had as she travailed through her wilderness. See if you agree.

Young Mary

I know not all of that which I contain.

I'm small; I'm young; I fear the pain.

All is surprise: I am to be a mother.

That Holy Thing within me and no other

is Heaven's King whose lovely Love will reign.

My pain, his gaining my eternal gain

my fragile body holds Creation's Light;

its smallness shelters God's unbounded might.

The angel came and gave, did not explain.

I know not all of that which I contain.


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