Monday, June 16, 2014

They could have been the "stressful mysteries"

As I shared in one of my recent posts, I'm generally moving beyond the emotional-wreck stage and into the let's-get-this-party-started stage of moving.  However, I'm still a Type-A, hormonal pregnant lady who is experiencing a fairly substantial life change, and so....there are days.

But despite "those days" (sorry, Justin and/or any/everyone else), I'm finding moments of grace and inspiration that are strengthening me throughout this whole experience.

Take yesterday, when I sat in church praying a rosary before Mass began.  I started meditating on the Joyful mysteries (never mind that I realized later that I was supposed to do the Glorious, but given my reflection, I'm happy for my mistake).

The first mystery: The Annunciation.

I start my Hail Marys, and start thinking of the Angel appearing to Mary.  I'm suddenly struck by fear and the anxiousness that Mary must have felt at the arrival of an heavenly messenger.  I thought not only of the startling messenger, but his alarming message: she was to become pregnant out-of-wedlock and to bear the Son of God.  This is not exactly a Precious Moments cherub delivering happily-ever-after news, as I've been oft to think before, with the benefit of now knowing the whole story.

Hmm, I think, as I reach the Our Father bead and begin a new mystery.

The second mystery: The Visitation.

I'm suddenly struck, again, by a new image.  No longer is it just happy hugs and long, loving chats by two glowing cousins.  I realize that it's two women meddling through the discomforts of pregnancy, one having sustained a long journey, without our modern conveniences, and with the added anxiety of not completely understanding the great mysteries God has planned in each of the new lives in their wombs.

Yikes.  There's more stress in all of this than I ever previously noticed.

The third mystery: The Nativity.

Childbirth.  In a cave.  Surrounded by animals.  Far from home.  Young, and very likely scared.

As I pray, I think of the painting of Mary we have in our room.  I purchased it last fall, having seen it at the Catholic bookstore in our new town on our should-we-move-here trip.  I was struck by the image, one of the only times I've ever seen anything besides radiant joy in a nativity picture.

But how true, that single tear, representing the bewilderment of every new mother.  How, she wonders, could I ever be worthy of this new life, and how will I ever live up to my call in raising this gift?

Mass began, and I put my rosary aside, unable to shake my new understanding of these mysteries.  I came home and began telling Justin of my observations, and we talk about the 4th and 5th mysteries.

The fourth mystery: The Presentation.

"Well, that's not so bad," I said to Justin.  "Other than the whole prophets telling you a sword will pierce your heart part," he counters.  Oh.  Right.

The fifth mystery: The Finding in the Temple.

I can see the great joy here, but not without recognizing the immense pain, fear, and concern at having not only lost your own child...but misplaced THE SON OF GOD.

Throughout each mystery, I see the fear, the anxiety, and the pain that must have accompanied Mary at each of these moments.  They might have easily been named the "stressful mysteries."  However, we are taught to reflect on these moments with JOY.   The Church shows us these examples of Mary's grace, first in recognizing her beautiful fiat, her acceptance and trust in the Lord.  Mary, in her humanity - and perhaps even in her femininity - would have had the inclination for such a naturally anxious response to such stressful occurrences.  However, she chooses joy.  She chooses to follow God's plan for her life, and to hope in the good that is to come from the suffering.  Therein lies the second lesson of these mysteries: God's plan is bigger than the moment, larger than what our human understanding can comprehend within the limits of time and space.  With the lens of history, we can appreciate the joy in each of these Biblical moments: the announcement of the arrival of the Son of God, the wonder of John the Baptist leaping in his mother's womb, the birth of our Savior.  We know how the story ends, and this knowledge teaches us to accept all that had to happen for this Divine Plan to be instated.  But in that narrow space of each moment, Mary couldn't have known or understood all that was to come, yet she chose anyway to respond with joy.  In our own lives, we rarely understand how God's plan is at play.  Even in moments when we know - or have chosen - that our changes or plans will mean things being tough before they get better, we often focus on the stress, rather than the ultimate joy.

And so, this is my prayer: that in each moment, as we go through challenges, changes, and stress, that we learn from Mary's example - that no matter how overwhelming or stressful it might seem in the short term, we choose to accept God's plan and accept it, not with anxiety, but with ultimate joy.

1 comment:

  1. So good! Joy truly is a supernatural virtue, isn't it? One that we have to choose and mindfully cultivate. I definitely am struggling with this myself as I'm angsting about all the what-ifs of the next two weeks! Thanks for the reminder, Emily.