“When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be”
~ The Beatles
It’s Christmas Eve and I’m preparing for The Refuge service tonight. It is a gift to be part of a community where everyone shares and I do not feel the Christmas Eve pressure so many other pastors feel, which really is lovely. But tonight with our first Christmas without Jared I am feeling the Christmas story in a whole new way.
The Christmas paradox has always felt so real for me—the messy, the beautiful, the simple, the profound, God, incarnate, born in a dirty stall, revealed to the least likely.
But this year—as we grieve the brutal loss of our dear and beautiful son—I can’t get Mary out of my head.
No matter what you believe about the story, Mary is the symbol of a mother throughout the world. An icon. A saint. A young girl whose entire life was turned upside down in an instant. An unlikely woman tasked with giving birth to Jesus in a mucky dirty stall in Palestine. A grown mother who watched her son suffer and die before her very eyes three decades later.
Mother Mary knew trouble.
I have no doubt she knew feelings of shame, fear, doubt, confusion, pain.
That she knew that she had to move forward even when she “didn’t know.”
That she knew she’d do anything for that child that grew inside of her.
That she would find a way to walk the path set before her, even when she had no idea where exactly it lead.
Mothers are amazing like that.
There are so many ways to mother, and this Christmas season as I crawl my way through the deepest grief imaginable and stave off shame’s sneaky ways, I love remembering the strength and resilience of Mary, of 27 years of mothering my 5 children, of mothers everywhere.
Since Jared died, whenever I hear the word “mother” I well up with tears. “Mother” makes my heart ache in a completely new way. Mothering him in this life was one of my greatest gifts, and while I am devastated that my time with him was cut so short, I will always mother that kid for the rest of my life in all kinds of new ways.
I’ll mother his story as best I can.
I’ll mother our story together with my family and community.
I’ll mother everything I do in a whole new way because of losing him.
I also love that there’s a lot more to mother in this world than human beings.
We mother grief, feeling all the feelings and then standing up to do the dishes.
We mother beauty that the world desperately needs.
We mother hope and dreams that need to come to life.
We mother healthier systems whenever we the strongholds of misogyny and patriarchy are broken and women’s wisdom and leadership is invited in.
We mother faith as spiritual midwives, unafraid to enter into the pain and help people give birth to renewal.
We mother the future, patiently nurturing seeds that will bear fruit over time, even when we might not see it.
We mother pain, hold, love, bind wounds.
We mother justice and mercy with resilience and hope despite deep resistance from all sides.
Mothers mother wisdom into this troubled world.
This Christmas Eve 2019, I am also reminded that this season isn’t all about me mothering. I am the one who needs mothering in a whole new way.
I need mothering by God in all her wisdom, presence, strength, hope, and mercy.
By my kids who are so freaking good to me.
By the women and men in my life who care so deeply about me and my family.
By music and nature and art.
By Mother Mary. Standing right in front of me. Speaking words of wisdom I most definitely need to hear this Christmas Eve even though they are in a song from the 1970 and not specifically in the Luke 2 passage we’ll read tonight (even though I kind of think they are)—Let it Be.
Let it Be.
Let it Be.
I don’t know where you are at this Christmas Eve, but if those words are for you, too, I hope you will hear their whisper.
I hope we will keep mothering.
I hope we will keep letting ourselves be mothered.
I hope that Emmanuel, God with Us, in the thick of us, is born in a new way this season.
I hope that if we need to today, that somehow, someway, we can let it be.
With love from Colorado this Christmas Eve, Kathy