It is raining.
I am home, gathering up my thoughts and my wayward tension and a pile of stuff that will be offered to friends and family.
Actually, I'm gathering up the trash, too. It's a lot less poetic, but it is the reality of my day. The trash has piled up, and it's time to go to the dump. So, on this Christmas Eve, the mundane calls for attention.
My soundtrack for these morning activities couldn't be more perfect. A song, new to me this year, has pushed my thoughts beyond the baby in the manger whose birth we'll sing and celebrate tonight and tomorrow.
I'm thinking today about a young girl who was feeling the pangs of labor on this day (and yes, I know that December 25th is not really the day of Jesus's birth, but it's where we are centered right now. So....)
I've had children; I know the tightening in your belly that signals it's time. The way the pressure begins to expand, the strong awareness in your soul that assures you that this time - yes, it's real, this is what it feels like to go into labor, and how the pressure and rhythmic contractions turn to a deep, sonorous pain. How it hurts and yet there is so much strength gathered in the center of the pain that you get a glimpse, for the first time, of the primal core of your being and you know that you are headed to a point of no return, that this will happen, that you will push a tiny human out of your body and there will be life and you will be a mother.
All of those things burn in the core of the recurring pain, the clenching and unclenching of your womb as your body plays its part in this miracle.
And I am thinking today of this young girl, her pain the culmination of a journey she couldn't have imagined for herself and that few would easily believe. On this, the day before the birth, she was, simply, a woman about to give birth, in a strange and less-than-favorable circumstance.
Jesus, Savior. Jesus, Son of God. My Savior and friend, the One who brought redemption. Fully man, knows our grief and sorrow, and yet capable of resurrection after death. I believe in Jesus.
But today I am thinking a lot about the woman who walked her own jagged path. Her baby is born, and the angels come sing, and - in the words of Patty Griffin -
"Mary stays behind and starts cleaning up the place".
Thanks to Rachel Held Evans for a better blog post than I'll ever write, for the nudge toward the best and richest Christmas song of the season for me, for the rich history and the words and the "creative work of a God who lifts up the humble and fills the hungry with good things."
Today, I am filled, and I am prompted to mindfully live this day within the same melody of obedience that rang over Mary.