We had driven over an hour to go to our dear friend’s housewarming in Barstow, California when I saw it- a statue of Mother Mary pregnant with Christ in her womb! I don't know what came over me, but it felt as if I was seeing my best friend after years have passed. I felt the excitement, the joy, the peace, and most especially, the comfort of knowing you are among someone who truly understands and loves you. I saw her, and immediately, I was reminded that she, the Mother of God, was with me especially now.
Mother Mary had experienced, like all mothers, the changes that nine months of pregnancy brings. She had felt the aches, pains, stretch marks, worries, leg cramps and fatigue as much as she felt the blissful anticipation of soon holding her son, Jesus. Mary was fully aware that her life would completely change, and yet, she embraced it. As soon as the words “Let it be done according to Your will” (Luke 1:38) passed her lips, Mary was asked to make many sacrifices for her Little One.
I’m sure she did not enjoy being gossiped about in town by those who were unaware of her miraculous pregnancy (Matthew 1:18). I can imagine the loss she must have felt when Joseph was thinking about divorcing her privately (Matthew 1:19). It may not be too far of a stretch to believe that she originally desired to have a simple life- one that did not include having to run away from a King who wanted nothing but to see her precious baby dead (Matthew 2:16) and one where she did not have to take on the most challenging role as the Mother of God! These are the things I think about as I stand here gazing at this statue.
Suddenly, I find myself transported back in time to when Mary traveled a long distance to see her cousin, Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-56). When Mary asked the angel how she was able to conceive when she was still a virgin, the angel had offered Elizabeth, her cousin who conceived in her old age, as further proof that nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:36-37). Upon hearing this news, it makes sense to me that Mary went in haste to visit Elizabeth- both of them were pregnant through the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit! Mary and Elizabeth were not alone in the shock, excitement, wonderment, and perhaps anxiety of what had just happened to them. They had each other.
This visit, however, was made with tremendous effort by Mary. Back then, there were no cars, trains, or planes. Most likely, she rode on a camel for miles and miles carrying everything she needed…while pregnant. I don’t even like getting out of the house when it is over 90 degrees outside, and this is with an air conditioned vehicle! That is a huge feat for a pregnant woman, but Mary chose to suffer the distance to see her cousin. Why? My guess is because she needed Elizabeth as much, I’m sure, as Elizabeth needed Mary.
Holy friendship and community are the words that come to mind as I reflect on their encounter, embrace, and dialogue. God knows how much we need each other especially during times of great confusion, suffering, period of transition, or overwhelming joy! We call on our friends to uplift us, encourage us, and share in our joy and halve our pains. Our faithful community is often what strengthens us for the journey ahead and keeps us accountable to what God has set on our hearts to do. Our friends remind us that no matter what we may be going through, we are not alone. God is here, and so are they! Mary most likely thought to herself, “Yes, this journey is long and hard, but it is worth it!” Sure enough, it was, as Mary decided to stay at Elizabeth’s house for three months, a whole trimester (Luke 1:56)!
What are you going through right now? Who in your life is God calling you to visit? Do you know that you are not alone? Did you know that Mother Mary and Jesus have experienced many of the same things you are going through and that God places people in your life for a reason?
May you be comforted by the life of Jesus and Mother Mary, and may you feel their loving and understanding presence walking alongside you throughout all the ups and downs of life!