by Christine Sine
Today is the first Monday of traditional Advent and I feel like Elizabeth greeting her cousin, Mary. In some ways, this year has seemed barren, just as Elizabeth’s womb seemed to be barren, but in the midst of that barrenness, heartache and grief, at God’s appointed time, unexpected seeds have been planted. Just as Elizabeth’s baby leapt for joy when they encountered Jesus in Mary’s womb, so the seeds within us are beginning to leap for joy as they encounter the yet unborn Jesus, for whom we wait with such longing.
On my desk in front of me is this beautiful image of Elizabeth and Mary meeting each other when Mary flees (my interpretation) from her family and the wrath of her community to find protection and comfort with her cousin. My eyes constantly drift to this image throughout the day, especially to the babies growing in Elizabeth’s and Mary’s wombs. Both of them are babies of promise. Both of them are being prepared for important destinies but at this stage, they are just seeds of hope and promise.
As I look at these women and the amazing babies growing in their wombs, I find God reminding me of the seeds that have been planted in me over this challenging year – embryos that are still growing slowly in the comforting darkness, nurtured and sustained by the spirit of God. Like Elizabeth’s baby, I feel these “embryos” leap with joy as they encounter the baby Jesus during this Advent season.
This morning, we lit the first candle on our Advent wreath, which sits in the middle of our breakfast table. It is the candle of hope and I already find myself looking forward to the new life of a new year and new possibilities with hope and expectancy. As I breathed in, I felt that every breath that I took was drawing the light of that candle, and its hope, in with it. I was aware of the light of life and love flowing through my bloodstream to nourish the womb of my spirit where the seeds God has planted will continue to grow.
I am looking forward to 2021 being a year of healing and I wonder what can I do now, during this season of waiting, to ensure that happens? How do I nourish the seeds that God has planted in me during this challenging year?
We seem to be living in a world that needs so much healing. The sick and dying long for it, the unjustly treated and abused crave it, the marginalized and economically fragile are starving for it. Even the creation cries out for it. And as I wait during this Advent season, reaching out with longing and hope to the child growing in Mary’s womb, I ask, “How can I use Advent to prepare me to be a better healer in this coming year?”
What about you? Take some time to study this image and allow your eyes to rest on the babies growing in Elizabeth’s and Mary’s wombs.
What has germinated in the womb of your soul this year that leaps for joy at the sight of the child in Mary’s womb?
Invite God to remind you of what has been seeded as a result of the challenges you have faced. Ask for divine wisdom to understand how best to nurture and grow those seeds during this Advent season.
As I did that this morning, I was not only reminded of the seeds growing inside the womb of my soul, but I was also reminded of the wise men who came and visited Jesus and then returned to their homes by a different route. (Matt 2:12) I wonder if during this Advent and Christmas season part of what God intends us to get ready for too is the fact that once we have encountered the Christ child this year we too will need to “return by a different route” The future will not look like the past. This is a great time to start getting ready.
Conceive in us your wholeness Lord
Form it in the darkness within.
Grow it in embryonic form,
as the Christ child grew in Mary’s womb.
Give birth to wholeness Lord
Let it emerge in infant form,
as the Christ child came,
perfect in form, but not fully grown.
Grow in us your wholeness Lord,
Enlarge the tiny child of God within.
Nurture it, shape it
bring it to maturity.
NOTE: This is one of the prayers on our Advent prayer cards.