We are given myriad scenes of nativity.
Characters the same, yet always different
I return to Correggio’s Holy Night,
feel the sweet warm weight cradled in Mary’s arms,
smile at the glow on her adoring face,
the loose folds of her dress,
sleeves mingling with swaddling
Another page, another artist…
each capturing varying images of love on her face, light in her eyes.
I wonder about things she kept in her heart.
When I think of promises, I think of Mary.
Promised as a part of her people by God
Promised to Joseph in betrothal,
Promised alone in a new way by God
Promising to participate in this mystery.
I think of waiting when I think of Mary.
The world waited for thousands of years
for One who would help them turn around right.
Mary waited her forty weeks of pregnancy.
Did she smile in wonder?
In those times a baby-in-waiting was hidden.
No sonogram, no reassurance.
Waiting was for the unknown.
I think of songs.
“May it be to me as you have said,”
The next words we read in Luke ,
she is singing “Joy to the world,
the Lord has come! Let every heart
prepare him room.
My heart already has!”
-her first lullaby, and His.
The one who neither slumbers nor sleeps
chose to come as a helpless baby
who needed sleeping, keeping.
As sweet mystery grew in her womb,
did she sing still?
As butterfly kicks began
did her eyes grow wide and weepy?
As her body and her heart made room
did she laugh and cry,
pray to understand?
As birthing began, promise kept, waiting over,
song became breathing, bearing, tearing.
In this hard work, was God magnified still?
As minor lament changed key to major praise,
did she sing again in exultation?
Did she hold her baby close
rock side to side,
singing a whispery lullaby of love,
echoing prophet’s promise?
“He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with his love.
He will rejoice over you with singing.”
I receive the promise. I wait. I sing Mary’s songs.
Come, O come, Immanuel.