Today is the feast day of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, commemorating the joyous encounter of Mary and her cousin Elizabeth while they are both pregnant. I love this reading of Luke 1:39-56 because it clearly shows that these women love each other and rejoice in one another’s blessing. I am in old Montreal as I write this, spending some time with my aunt who is dear to me. The connection between women, as I have said before, can be quite profound. I look forward to spending some time here and praising God together. I will not be staying for three months as Mary did, but I will be here long enough to read the many graces of spending time with an elder who is family, just like Mary did.
One of the alternative readings for today is from Romans 12 and gives a variety of advice: Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.… rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers… Do not claim to be wiser than you are. I think when you gather with someone who is your elder, you realize that you are not as wise as you think you are. I am sure Mary learned lots from her cousin during those three months as I will glean wisdom from my aunt.
In the first reading from Zephaniah, we are reminded to sing aloud with joy which can happen when we are united with loved ones. God who exults over us, will renew us in Love. Sometimes that renewal comes in spending time with family. Other times, we are reminded of the struggles from our younger days. During my flight here, I read from a book entitled, Sacred Fire by Ronald Rolheiser. He says: None of us have perfect childhoods. All of us, as children, suffer some lack of affirmation, lack of love, lack of being properly valued, and some positive cruelty and unfairness. These experiences cut deep and leave deep scars in our psyches. He discusses that in our mature years we need to forgive much: those who have hurt us, ourselves for our own shortcomings, life for its unfairness, and even God who did not seem to protect or rescue us. I think Rolheiser is being wise here. In these final stages of life, we are asked to forgive much and the fact that none of us have had perfect childhoods helps us to let go and move on. We must look to God to renew us with Love.
I will be spending time here with my father’s youngest sister and older brother. I may learn some stories about him and his childhood as I did the last time I was here. Those were precious moments. I pray that while I am here my love may be genuine, as I hold fast to what is good, rejoice in hope and not try to be wiser than I am. Like Mary, may I exalt in God my saviour.
Who is an elder that you rejoice in spending time with?
What childhood wound that still binds you needs to be forgiven?
Mary and Elizabeth, show me how to embrace my childhood wounds and rejoice in God my Saviour. Untie, my knots, Mary and make me whole. Let me run to an elder woman for life lessons when I need to and remember to always rejoice in hope. Renew me in your love. Amen.