Today we used the second of the monologues I wrote for our Advent services. My sig. file (back in the days when I had a sig file) was a quote from Dostoyevsky: “Active love is labor and fortitude.” That quote and a question I often ask myself in difficult situations – “What does love require?” – inspired these thoughts, from Mary’s point of view.
I know that I will love this child that I am carrying.
But perhaps you understand love in a different way than I do.
I only know love as I have experienced it in my family and community.
We are not poets or philosophers.
We are the am-ha-aretz, the people of the land.
For us, love is the hard work of daily life.
Love is my father, day after day, working to provide shelter and food for his family.
Love is my mother, grinding, and washing, and tending to sick children.
Love leaves you with aching muscles and tired eyes at the end of day.
My father’s hair has gone gray and my mother’s back is stooped because of love.
I suppose that some day soon I will bear the marks of love, too.
So, yes, I will love this child.
I will nurse him and rock him and sing him to sleep.
I will teach him to walk, and mend his clothes, and bake his bread.
I will pour my life out for him, and he will know that he is loved.
This is what loves requires.
But this child is unique.
I don’t think he will simply take his place in this line,
Growing up to labor for his own family,
Growing old in caring for them.
This child is the hope of Israel, the Shepherd of the people of God.
What work will love require of him?
What will love ask him to do?
I feel – perhaps I even fear – that love will call him to do something very great, and very hard.
God, You are lovingkindness.
You have shown your patience and tenderness toward your wandering and rebellious children.
Help me to love well the child that you are sending to us.
Help me to pour out my life in the work of love, holding nothing back.
Help me to love through sweat and dirt, and skin and bone,
So that my loving can be a small piece of your plan;
The plan to redeem and restore us through your Anointed One.
Father, may it be to me as you have said.