Today is the traditional feast for Christians of the Assumption of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, into heaven where she reigns as Queen. As I have grown in years and in my knowledge of Scripture, I often think that Mary might be uncomfortable with that title. While it is true that Luke’s gospel for this morning quotes Mary proclaiming, in what has come to be known as The Magnificat, “From this day, all generations shall call me blessed,” she clearly gives the glory to God for every honor that has come to her. (“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked upon my lowliness…”) It is also true that the setting for this speech of Mary is the home of her kinswoman, Elizabeth, to whom she has fled upon learning that both of them are pregnant – Mary the teenager and Elizabeth the older woman, past the normal age for bearing children. It is only Elizabeth (no great crowd) that hears the words from Mary’s mouth about the favor of God. (LK 1:36-52) I love to think of them in Elizabeth’s kitchen, perhaps preparing a meal, sharing their fears and misgivings over their unexpected physical state but grateful for the presence of one another as trusted companions. It must have been a great comfort for both, but maybe especially for Mary as her situation was even more weighty than that of Elizabeth.
Presence in time of need is a precious gift, one of which I was quite mindful this week as I shared the family waiting room at the hospital where my sister had a hip replacement on Thursday. It was a quiet place, a kind of “sacred space,” but one where the entire room breathed deeply and gratefully each time a doctor appeared to share good news. It also extended beyond the hospital as other relatives and friends who had pledged prayer were waiting as well. I had a long list of texts to write in the end, many of which received immediate responses to my “great success” messages at the good news.
Today I hope to be mindful of the importance of the many opportunities to be present to the people I encounter, with the purpose of helping them to recognize the importance of who they are and what their presence can mean to stranger, friend or family for this woman who is feeling greatly blessed.