"And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart."
This Scripture passage is at the center of the idea for this month: Winter Wondering. Now that the hustle and bustle, the stress and the excitement of Christmas has passed, we are still left with one final task: to reflect upon the activity we have just experienced and to ponder where we should go from here.
At the heart of the Christmas story, of course, is the birth of Jesus. The moment when God "pitched his tent among us", living a normal life. We have just spent a great deal of time and energy celebrating that birth, even if we didn't always feel that is what we were doing. Now what?
We've all seen the car magnets that say "Keep Christ in Christmas," but what about after Christmas? Shouldn't it make a difference afterwards, as well? If we compare normal life to Jesus' birth, then yes, his birth makes an enormous difference! In other words, does a newborn baby make a difference in the lives of the family he or she is born into? Of course! Life is never the same - from the sleepless nights to the smiles of joy at the gurgling and cooing, to the feeding patterns and washing - all while keeping up with all the other responsibilities of everyday life - babies cause an enormous change, just by their mere presence! Ask any parent that. Our lives are changed forever.
That's what Mary was reflecting on in her heart. Beyond gazing down with love at her new son, that look of love on the faces of so many mothers, she was also likely wondering things like: How will my life be changed? Am I able to raise this child? How do I nurture his relationship with his family? his community? God? Will I be a good mother? Mary also had the added element that she knew Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. She must have been awed by the love of the Father, who was willing to send his Son to earth for the sake of humanity, and had to trust that God would aid her in raising Jesus well.
Let's take this month of January to ask ourselves the same questions. Now that the Child Jesus is here, what difference does it make in my life? How can I nurture Jesus in my heart, and also in the community? The cold, silent, snowy month of January gives us time to pause and ponder on these things in our own hearts.
Our special Winter Snow rosary is especially helpful for reflecting in the winter, as we pray with Mary. The Our Father beads are symbols of the winter, symbols of looking inward, of wondering where God is in our own lives. Where are the bare places, in need of more hay and softness? Like the snowflake, what are our own unique gifts we are called to use? Like the snowman, do we show joy in everyday life? These are some of the questions the habit of Winter Wondering can help us ponder.
Next week: the gift of Wonder & Awe
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