I felt it coming on early this morning: I was shifting into “Martha mode.” So far I’ve been very reflective about Advent this year, wanting to be like two Marys in the Bible—the one who sat at Jesus’ feet and listened, and the one who was His mother, with much to treasure and ponder in her heart.
But this morning was different. I awoke with shopping lists and baby equipment on the mind, and visions of menu planning and baking, Pack’n Plays and car seats, dancing in my head. I felt like Martha, “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made” (Luke 10:40).
We are extra-excited about Christmas this year. In just one week they begin to arrive for overlapping visits: all 6 of our adult kids (each of our 3 and spouses) and all 6 of our grandkids. We are very geographically scattered, from Wisconsin to Florida to New Hampshire and on to Ireland, so it’s a rare event that we will all be together for four whole days—for the first time in a year and a half.
We can’t wait! But there’s a lot to do. And this morning, the length of my lists hit me full force. Then I remembered wise words from the poet Mary Oliver (written in a different context) that a friend had sent me recently as a reminder of how to celebrate Advent: “Walk slowly. Bow often.” Is there any better time than Advent to be reminded of this?
“Walk slowly. Bow often.” I forwarded these words to our kids, with a brief note acknowledging how impossible that must seem amidst their busy lives with babies and toddlers and preschoolers.
My daughter-in-law Abby wrote back with a very interesting perspective (which I share with her permission):
“We were convinced that we couldn’t walk slower than we did with Soren (now 5 and a very fast runner!)…but Nils (22 months) has him beat! The sun rises and falls before Nils can get himself from the car to the back door. He greets every puddle, squirrel, and leaf with a glorious pause and ‘hi!’ It’s a long obedience…Now I’ll just have to think about bowing often as I stand holding the door open wishing I had a cattle prod. Thanks, Mom!”
“Walk slowly. Bow often.” If you can do it while waiting for a wonder-filled but dawdling toddler, maybe you can do it while waiting in line at Walmart, or while on hold trying to place an order. Or maybe even in a few moments of quiet before tackling the day’s List.
So I sat quietly for a few moments this morning pondering our nativity set and thinking of Mary—and me, and you. “How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given…” I prayed that I would not miss the wonder and mystery of it all even amidst the flurry of joyful family reunions. I pray the same prayer for you—whether you walk the floor with a crying baby, or wait on slow-moving toddlers, or get ready for a houseful, or even prepare for a quieter Christmas this year. May you find—or make—in this season a few “Mary moments” to welcome Him into your heart and life above all others.
“O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!” Merry Christmas (and a “Mary” Christmas) to you all!