Advent Sunday Week 4 - Luke 1:39-45 By Claire Soupene , Mercy Volunteer Corps , Cristo Rey New York Volunteer Program
What a story of recognition this Sunday ’ s gospel is . I can ’ t help but imagine the great vulnerability that exists between these two women , that Elizabeth could understand the truth of Mary ’ s experience from the moment she spoke . Two women , coming together to name the grace they see not only happening within themselves but within one another . Two women , of shared experience offering encouragement for the perhaps scary road ahead .
My favorite depiction of this scene is the Windsock Visitation by Brother Mickey McGrath , OSFS . Elizabeth and Mary gleefully embrace one another , their pregnant bellies touching and seemingly intermingling . Alongside them is a quote from Jane de Chantal : “ This is the place of our delight and rest .” Their joy shocks me every time in the most wonderful way .
I can imagine their fear so much more easily . Pregnancy is a time of great change in one ’ s body , and so much change happening so quickly can be disorienting . Am I still the same person ? Is this still the same me ? Really ? Are you sure ? I asked these questions of myself a lot during my time as a volunteer . Things were changing fast , and at times the old me felt distant , almost like another life entirely , and that distance scared me .
This image reminds me to breathe in the joy of change . When we are deep in the trenches of transition and growth , it can be difficult to see the transformation taking place within us . Sometimes it might even feel like we ’ re not growing at all . Maybe it just feels like we ’ re barely getting by . These are moments that community can buoy us . It can offer us a sense of being seen or known or recognized while affirming the great grace that ’ s happening within us even as we change .
This source of community might be your volunteer community , who like Elizabeth and Mary , are of shared experience . But it might also be those you work with or a faith community you ’ ve found or those who have known you beyond this year . Wherever you find your place of delight and rest , I pray that they reflect back to you the glory and grace of all you are becoming and that you in turn might be a mirror too .
Suggestions for Service
Mother God , you too have witnessed us growing . Share in our joy and struggles as we go foward . May our growth lead us ever closer to the person you are calling us to be , even when we are unsure where this path will lead us . And in this season of transition , may we find a home among those who allow us to delight and to rest .
Many in our communities often go without this sense of recognition and the dignity it brings with it . This is particularly true among those facing homelessness , folks struggling with severe mental illness , and the elderly . Take an evening to volunteer at a soup kitchen or spend an afternoon at an assisted living center . Seek to reflect the dignity of those you encounter back to them . If you ’ re unable to find an opportunity like this , spend some time researching advocacy efforts going on in your community and find ways to get involved .