By Rowshan Nemazee, Mercy Associate
As Autumn turns her garb from vibrant leaves to bare twigs and branches,
my mind turns away from vitality to depth,
from the outer to the inner.
This is a liminal time of waiting,
anticipating an arrival,
of being instructed by expectancy
and carried into warm affection.
Yet, the dreaded Covid virus still lingers,
only now, its targets are our children.
This day, I feel connected with mothers the world over
and their fears of illness and loss,
the devastation of their grief and pain.
Most of all, my heart is with migrant women
who flee poverty, abuse, and death,
seeking ways to feed, clothe, and shelter their offspring –
born and unborn – as they journey across
perilous terrain to reach a place of safety,
a land where they will be allowed to work and flourish.
Tragically, upon arrival, they are greeted with
imprisonment, rejection, and discriminatory practices!
I sense the palpitations of their hearts in mine,
never in judgement, but in love,
in shared hope.
They long for a chance at normalcy:
physical, spiritual, economic.
What lies between the yearning and its actualization,
the bondage and freedom?
What are we willing to relinquish to help?
New life comes into our country daily, but it is degraded, shunned,
boycotted and unwelcomed.
Our government undermines
these souls in the most unjust ways.
What calls us to pick up the words of compassion, of activism?
How do we meet the possibility of rectifying this?
Sometimes, in order to empower ourselves,
we need to turn to spiritual nourishment
to fight for and alleviate the pain
imposed on these women and their children.
In times of need, as a mother, Mary
has been my refuge.
Thus, I come to this moment more clearly
through Fra Lippi’s “Annunciation,”
where a youthful Mary sets her face,
in awe and in assent,
not toward Gabriel, but rather, toward the dove.
It is a moment of awakening,
of softness and maturity
filled with the gentle ardor of maternal hope.
Notice with delight as the hand of God
sends delicate sprays of gold
which gyrate into spirals announcing
the presence of the dove,
the Holy Spirit,
who, in turn, sprinkles Mary.
Mary’s body, too, responds with a
spray of gold from an aperture in her garment.
What is she thinking? Where will she go?
What will she do?
As Luke tells us later: she treasures and ponders
many words in her heart (Lk. 2:19).
“Here am I, … let it be with me according to your word” (Mt. 1:38).
Shocked and frightened by this shift in her life,
Mary undertakes what will turn out to be a perilous journey
for her beloved son.
Faith and hope give her the strength to carry on.
It is a joy-filled hope
– I say this softly, as one must
to soak in the breathtaking fortes and diminuendos,
of life –
to allow them to go wherever sounds go
when they are no longer audible.
Hope does not come from nothing;
hope is a liminal sanctuary.
I see it in Lippi’s gyrating spirals,
those delicate golden circles
which hold within them all love,
just as Mary’s openness
holds the notes of the new soaring life within her.
Everything that came before that moment of mutual acknowledgement
is now a part of her.
She now has a life with new meaning
which is resurrected in this day.
Now, the rushing, the frustrations, and activities to assist the migrants
take on a new energy.
Today, through Mary,
I see prisms of Light … through the mothers’tears;
weeping the past that would sculpt the shape of their living;
rising with the ones they thought had been lost.
Hope has a past, present, and future.
Nothing is wiped away in anticipation,
but everything is held differently;
everything has a new depth.
There is a gyroscopic form that allows us to seek equity,
new hope, and new strength through Mary.
She brings with her a textured joy.
Hope is not sterile.
It does not avert its eyes.
It holds the doubts and questions,
all elation and convictions, both old and new.
It arises out of all our secrets
It speaks to the chroma of existence.
It lays our souls bare and shines on them
so we, too, in each moment of darkness
can remember again, to be whole and to enrich others.
When life staggers onto our paths, when that life is bound by injustice
we are called to release it.
We, Mary’s sisters are to welcome all life,
give it wings
and set it free.
For your listening pleasure, a Christmas song.