by quest writer Laurie Klein,
Yearning never phones ahead. No heads-up email, no text. No forwarded ETA. Amid tinsel and fudge and LED stars, yearning appears in unguarded moments. Sometimes it manifests in a long, deep-in-the-bone foreboding.
For many of us this year, wearied by grief, frustration, and fear, we find ourselves hosting a mix of feelings we scarcely know how to name. Combined into a single entity, one awkward soul guest haunts and entreats us: hungry, displaced, wordlessly hoping for explanations. A gesture of kindness.
Maybe yearning wants a hand to hold. Or a handout. Or a hand up, away from past disappointments—because it aches in our marrow, this ongoing inward sigh.
Do we forget sometimes that God ever-yearns over us? That this uncomfortable, confusing longing we carry may be, in fact, heaven’s gift?
I suspect yearning sometimes arrives as the Christ Child did, so long ago sent among us. Unexpressed longing, fear, even frustration—perhaps, these same emotions impelled Mary to visit Elizabeth.
Picture the scene with me: Trembling, Mary nears her kinswoman’s door. She’s footsore and parched, perhaps a little bit dreamy, having walked so far. Having carried such secrets.
Elizabeth’s work-worn hands draw her across the threshold. How breathless, the older woman’s greeting. How gently she kisses that youthful face lit with hopes and dread and a hundred questions.
As their days together unfold, there might be shared singing and sighing and prophesying. There’s probably soup. And honey, drizzled across warm bread.
The women work and worship and rest together. They stroke the taut skin of their bellies as night comes on. I imagine John as a kicker, a roller, a swimmer of rivers. Jesus, on the other hand, perhaps has yet to fidget or flip-turn. So quiet. Considerately balanced. Contained. The two women gaze at each other, and maybe they think:
Something never-before this Real wants to be born . . . through us.
Today, those of us housing a restive soul-guest might look to St. Benedict’s Rule: “Let everyone that comes be received as Christ” (Matthew 25:38-40, NIV).
This Advent—amid the escalating pandemic, political turmoil, and global chaos—what if we set aside a little time to name our yearnings?
What if we choose to embrace estranged parts of ourselves? We are each a temple of God’s spirit. Will we carve out spiritual room in the inn, remember who God has called us to be? Perhaps our talents and dreams have been shelved during nine months of restriction. What personality traits have we dismissed? Exiled or denied?
Like Mary and Elizabeth, let’s choose to work and worship and rest together. Let’s also respect and companion our yearning, sit with it, compassionately, at day’s end.
Welcome begins long before the heart’s door swings wide. Welcome starts small, with the nod of acceptance. Yes, I see you. Tell me what you need. Then, the practical, beckoning gesture: soothing as soup, yeasty as bread, irresistible as the outstretched hand.
Bio for Laurie Klein
Laurie Klein is the author of the classic praise chorus, “I Love You, Lord,” a poetry collection, Where the Sky Opens, and an award-winning chapbook, Bodies of Water, Bodies of Flesh. A grateful recipient of the Thomas Merton Prize for Poetry of the Sacred, she lives in Washington State, USA, and blogs monthly at lauriekleinscribe.com.
Laurie, I love this so much! Your lyrical thoughts are like liquid honey for the soul. How beautifully you have captured the yearnings we all have, especially those gestated during these nine months of a pandemic, and its gruesome aftermath. But even more, I adore the imagined conversation and shared wonder between Mary and Elizabeth. You’ve added flesh to the biblical narrative, and drawn us deeper into an appreciation for the miracle of Jesus’ coming to earth in such earthy simplicity. An audacious act that eschewed fanciful fanfare declarations to the human race, but spoke powerfully instead of his lowliness, humility and grace. Thank you for your wondrous words. It’s a delight to see you sharing them here. Blessings. x
Joy, to realize our God has allowed me a point of entry into the Story that generates a spill of metaphorical sweetness is a gift. Thank you.
Like you, it delights me to imagine conversations between these two extraordinary mothers in the faith. My spirit brims over today at the way you describe God’s gracious, “audacious act.” Blessed Christmas to you!