December 29, 2020. I’ve been thinking about Mary.
This Christmas I decided that I was going to be more of a minimalist. I told my family that I was just not into getting out all the decorations – the seasonal plates, the large nativity scene that I’ve had for 30 years, and the other assorted Christmas decorations that seem to just add more clutter to a room. It was December 20th when I finally ventured into the attic and brought down the artificial tree, a few tree ornaments, and the Pottery Barn Christmas table runner that complements the couch pillows.
I was set. A simple Christmas.
Then I saw Mary.
When I asked the store clerk why the Peruvian nativity scene was marked down to $20, her response was simply, “Mary is broken.” I didn’t say it out loud, but I immediately thought, “Of course she is. She is the perfect Mary for me. Right now.”
I put the simple nativity scene in the center of my kitchen. I admired the intricate details that the artist captured in the faces of Jesus, Joseph, and Mary. But what captured my imagination more than anything were the fractures in Mary. That got me thinking….
Mary. The one that Gabriel, the angel, told would “bear a son….” The one who simply replied, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” The one who was scared. Afraid. Broken. Uncertain about her future. Questioning how she would explain this angel encounter to her mom, her dad, Joseph – her fiancé. She said, “Yes,” but I have no doubt that she wondered, “How can this be true? I am too young. I am a virgin. I am fragile. I am afraid.” As confident as Mary was in her response to Gabriel, there were certainly “fractures” of doubt, uncertainty, and fear.
Most of us have felt “fractured” this past year. We are sad and confused. We are fragile. I too have been sad and more fragile. I feel more aches and pains than I do joy and exuberance. I am disillusioned and disheartened over politics, religion, our economy, and relationships with friends and family. I am unsure of what the future looks like and I am anxious, and often fearful.
Christmas 2020. I needed the “broken, fragile” Mary to have her place in my spirit. I needed Mary to remind me that we are all fractured, sad, afraid sometimes, and often confused. My $20 purchase of the most beautiful nativity scene that I will ever own was the best gift that I gave to myself this Christmas.
As I think about what lies ahead, I want to remember this Christmas gift – the gift of my broken Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Mother of Sorrows. Life was not easy for her. She was broken and hurt and yet she was faithful to her purpose. May that be true of me too.