Pondered Them In Her Heart
One line from midnight Mass has been playing in my head over the last few days.
Luke 2:19 - And Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.
Regardless of what way you look at it, the Bible is a remarkably succinct and blunt book to read – if you believe the birth of Jesus was truly God becoming man, the plain words contrast the fanfare one intuitively expects for such an event and if you think it’s a load of codswallop and a great conspiracy to extend power through centuries, it’s hardly a gripping page-turner.
But the quiet introspection of a young woman, who, contrary to all her dreams, has just given birth among animals in a cave to a baby that an angel told her was the Son of God, seems unrealistic in this day and age.
I was trying to imagine myself in Mary’s place – fair enough she headed off fairly quickly to spill the beans to Elizabeth, but I can’t imagine pondering such things in my heart. First of all, I’d expect a digital camera to be somewhere in the vicinity to capture any moments I might have missed out on (probably because I was trying to get the zoom right on the camera). More than likely, there’d be some video footage for youtube too. Most of my friends know me as a rather bitchy venter, so the mobile would start hopping and the story would be told with gasps and soundbite wisdom. I’d probably blog about it and look up virgin births on wikipedia. Then Jesus would be sent to a crèche in Lucan, I’d be commuting to the city every day and the next time I’d sit down to have good think about the whole thing is during an ad break.
I recently heard a priest talk about giving retreats to married couples – one of the exercises he had them do was to sit in silence with each other for 20 minutes. Most of them found the time interminably long and afterwards, were amazed at the power of that silent togetherness to rediscover something about their relationship.
I must confess to a disturbing lack of pondering and silence in my life – probably the only time I regularly do anything in total silence is when I clean the toilet as there’s no last.fm in there and wearing one’s iPod while using Domestos just seems wrong.
I used to go on a weekend silent retreat once a year – by the time I got into the silent thing, it was time to go home again (which reminds me to book one for next year).
I regularly crave silence, and appreciate it but often feel like I’m missing out on some indefinable action. And yet when I’m buzzing about the place, accompanied by friends, music and radio, I feel like I’m a spectator with no time to appreciate, to savour, to understand – to ponder.
From the perspective of the Christian, Mary was spectacularly gifted, blessed among women for many things, but from my current perspective, the gift of unadulterated pondering seems the sweetest.