If Mary sings this song to steel herself, it makes sense that she’d end it with a nod to her ancestors and descendants. I imagine that she felt safer considering her distant past and distant future instead of the nine months of vulnerability ahead. My hardships feel less daunting if I think of my life as part of a long story that began with my grandparents before I was born and will continue with my children after I die. Our sacred texts are magical in the way they connect us to an even more ancient past. I find solace in knowing that I am living out the life that Mary dreamed about during her own moment of vulnerability: when she learned she was pregnant with Jesus.
I’m afraid for a different reason than Mary was. But like Mary, I’ve reached out to grab onto the ropes of my ancestors and young children to pull myself out of darkness. I’ve found solace in the story of my grandmother, who died last year at 93. In the early 1950s, she traveled alone with her three baby daughters from Washington D.C. to Hong Kong to join her husband, who was in the Foreign Service. A week after she arrived, he died suddenly of polio. She quarantined with her children for forty days before she could return home, mourn the loss of her husband, and grapple with the sudden drop in her economic circumstances.
Focusing on the story of my grandmother’s resilience at the same time that I watch my infant daughter grow has given me hope to face this pandemic. I can face the challenges that I meet just as my grandmother did. And just as my daughter will after I am gone.
What stories from your past and what hopes for the future help you face the present?
God, keep us mindful of the story you are writing with our lives. Amen.