It was a little rough at my 7am coffee shift this morning. People came in looking even more tired and haggard than usual. They were not cheerful. They could not find proper change or their keys. They seemed to be almost at the end of themselves.
It happens this way sometimes, doesn’t it? If you are the person who makes it to the 23rd of December and is still humming a merry tune without stress or sleep deprivation, congratulations. I wish I knew your secret. For more and more that seems to be the minority as all the preparations for the modern Christmas can flat take it out of you.
Or maybe it was already taken out of you. Maybe things have been already been hard and Christmas just seems to emphasize the struggle a bit.
So for all you walking wounded out there, here is my gift to you.
Yes, Mary. The mother of Jesus. The Theotokos. The bearer of God into this broken world.
Whenever I think of Mary, she brings me such comfort. For she and her song remind me that having it all together may not be our quickest path to God. In fact, it seems that one of the qualities that enabled Mary to be the mother of God was in fact her emptiness. This poor, young, vulnerable woman became a participant in the incarnation not in spite of her lack, but because of it.
You see Mary’s emptiness made her the perfect vessel to be filled with God’s very self. Combine that with an open and humble spirit and you have the makings for a great miracle.
And the best part is, in some little way we can all do the same.
So this Christmas, when you feel you are coming to the end of yourself, take heart. Your emptiness and vulnerability have made you a vessel. Just choose wisely what you allow yourself to be filled with.
I myself will be calling to mind this lovely lyric written by an old friend.