We clustered nervously in the hallway outside the door to her room, clutching containers of bubbles and sidewalk chalk as the children bounced around, impatient for the fun to begin. Her face appeared in the crack—one eye, the side of her nose. Then the door opened wide. “Well, hello!” she beamed at us.
She had entirely forgotten who we were.
As we all rode the elevator down to the lobby, we chatted about the weather and the purple shirt she was wearing. We led her out to the patio, where the kids blew bubbles and ran circles around her, calling her over to see their chalk drawings. Robins twittered in the woods nearby, where the late afternoon sun flashed through the pine trees. She reminisced about playing jacks when she was a girl and said, “So pretty! So pretty,” over and over again. Her smile lit up her eyes. And it wasn’t a perfect visit, but it was pretty close.
The ministry of presence is a powerful thing.
When Mary visited Elizabeth in today’s Gospel reading, she brought the gift of herself—a comforting presence for the remainder of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. That Spirit-filled moment of her arrival was marked by babies leaping in wombs and women embracing and crying out loudly and (shortly thereafter) bursting into song.
That moment defined joy—not just for the two women standing there in the doorway of Elizabeth’s house, but for each of us who encounters another as a gift.
Every time we pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, we can place ourselves there with Mary and Elizabeth and witness the power of what happens when one woman shows up for another. Mary came that day to share her love and to share Jesus. This is exactly what we do when we visit our relatives with Alzheimer's, or carry a meal to a new mother, or invite that lonely neighbor for coffee.
We carry Jesus to the world by showing up for the people who need us. Every time we do, the Lord, Our God, is in our midst, rejoicing over us with singing.
Read this wonderful speech by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on the Visitation.
Abbey Dupuy is the Assistant Theological Editor for Blessed is She and writes her life as a homeschooling mama of four frequently barefoot children. She muses about imperfect parenting, practicing gratitude, and celebrating the liturgical year with her young family on her blog. In her spare time, she enjoys running, gardening, coffee, and cookbooks, not usually at at the same time. You can find out more about her here. She is the author of our Blessed Conversations: The Virtues study found here.