On Ash Wednesday / Valentine’s Day I found myself en route to work, hot tears stinging my eyes as I mulled over the end of a fledgling relationship. I pulled into the parking lot behind our offices, rested my head on the steering wheel, and prayed:
I need You to get me through this day.
I had barely slumped into my desk chair when a colleague approached. Before I could utter a word she said, “Oh no! What’s wrong?”
Either I had done a poor job of sprucing up my tear-stained face or the Holy Spirit had readied her heart to be attentive to my need. Either way, in that moment of being truly noticed I let the tears flow (again) and said, “It’s just been a hard day.”
Today’s reading about the Visitation—when Mary greets Elizabeth and they marvel at God’s work in their pregnancies—is one I come back to again and again. What a joyful/exciting/uncertain time it must have been for both of them:
Elizabeth, a woman of old age once barren, preparing to birth John;
Mary, a young woman, preparing to birth our Lord under the most unexpected of circumstances . . . .
I have no doubt they trusted (and Mary in a particular way as the vessel of Jesus), but there must also have been uncertainty. I think a lot about the comfort that they must have been to each other in those months together. I think a lot about how I, too, crave those moments when we “rejoice with those who rejoice” and “weep with those who weep” as Saint Paul exhorts in today’s reading (Romans 12:15). That moment with my colleague was one such “visitation moment.”
A few weeks later she and I reversed roles: I listened to her as she wept about something undeniably hard in her own life. In that moment I was reminded that whether we are the giver or the recipient, we are never alone in our journey. What a gift that is.
My prayer for all of us today is that we might embrace the vulnerability of Mary and Elizabeth. That we might not fear sharing our anxiety or sorrow, alongside our joy, with a colleague, sister, mother, daughter, or friend. That we might have our own beautifully sweet visitation moment, and in doing so, that we might marvel that “the almighty has done great things, and holy is His name.”
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Karen Schultz hails from the Land of 10,000 lakes, where she is often found in or near one of them. As a doula, lactation educator, and FertilityCare Practitioner, she finds joy in helping women to embrace the gift of their bodies. Downtime is found in quiet adoration chapels, farmers markets and gardens, listening to bluegrass music, and embracing the diversity of Minnesota’s seasons. You can find out more about her here.