At first I was worried there would be nothing for me in Mary’s Song. It feels like Bible boilerplate: My soul magnifies the Lord…. and so on (v. 46). Like a press release from the political campaigns I’ve covered, Mary is staying infuriatingly on message here, at a time when I desperately want her to say something specific and real about the weight of the responsibility she’s carrying. This kind of stiff-upper-lip attitude worked well centuries ago, but it is not exactly how people teach us to cope now. Given that I’m embroiled in the fearful reality of this pandemic, I hope God will forgive me my desire for something that doesn’t feel like such a cliché.
But these verses held more resonance when I thought of Mary’s Song as a kind of Biblical power ballad. My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior (vv. 46-47) feels to me like the first-century Hebrew equivalent of “Fake it ‘till you make it.” If I imagine that singing this song gave Mary courage to face the fears that must have come with carrying the son of God, it helps me to think of the kinds of songs and mantras I could sing to strengthen my own resolve.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed, she sings (v. 48). In this moment of fear, when everyone across the globe has had to learn to focus only on the present of each day, I relate to Mary’s desire to sing about future generations. At a time when thinking about next week or next month isn’t likely to make me feel too hopeful, thinking about the way this moment might change the world for the better in future generations is the only reassuring way to think about what’s to come.
What about Mary’s song gives you courage to face your fears?
God, help me find the words I need to move through my fears into your hope. Amen.