“…and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2: 18-9 NRSV)

“But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19 NKJV)

“And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” (Luke 1:28 DRA)

“And the angel went in to her, and said, ‘Hail, you who are freely beloved. The Lord is with you. You are blessed among women.’” (Luke 1:28 RGT)

“Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her: Good morning!You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out!” (Luke 1:26-28 MSG)

December 19th is a significant day for me. There’s nothing that happened by outside standards that makes it significant. It’s not a holiday, or a birthday; I didn’t receive an award or any other sort of accolade. December 19th is the day before the day I gave birth to my first born. I wasn’t even in labor that day — it is profoundly just the day before I gave birth.

I remember, sitting on the floor of my childhood room, nesting, quietly sorting through baby shower gifts, dreaming & pondering. And moving from there to the  living room sitting on my favorite couch scrolling through Facebook, the tv playing in the background, dreaming & pondering. And moving from there to my room sitting on my bed, streaming some preacher’s sermon about Mary, dreaming & pondering.
That sermon came from Luke 2:

“…but Mary…pondered these things in her heart…”

I couldn’t help but feel a deep connection to the story of Mary & the birth story of Jesus — I was young, and with child, and the time was near for me to give birth to my first born: a son.

And just like Mary, people had a lot to say. They didn’t like my timeline. They didn’t think I was ready. They were angry. They said that any thoughts I had about my life & who I would become were gone. They judged my intellectual work through the prism their thoughts about my womb. They measured my character by the circumference of my pregnant belly. They changed up on me. They didn’t know how to engage with me. They were uncomfortable.

They…they…they…

You could get lost in the sea of they when they think that what they think is the axis around which your world ought to pivot and spin.
“…but Mary…pondered these things in her heart…”

Luke tells the story of a Mary steeped in wonder & critical reflection. The shepherds came after the birth of Jesus, telling of what the angels told them about her son. I can imagine Joseph and all his family milling about — some listening & engaged, some going about the cares of the moment, or some, perhaps, asleep…

“…and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart…”
Maybe love requires sacred space…your own inner symposium, and artist studio, and inner sanctuary, where you go to hear and to sit with what Howard Thurman calls the sound of the genuine. Mary knew how to do that.

“…but Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart…”
Even more that that, maybe love requires that over and against all that they do, over and against all that they say, over and against all that they set as their expectations — maybe love requires that over and against all their stuff, that you learn how to hold on to you. That’s what Mary did.

Mary had to love herself so deeply, so widely, so surely, that it was worth the effort to make room & create the place within herself where she could place words she treasured & carry ideas and experiences to be pondered.
Mary intuited that there was something about herself — something that she felt, saw, and sensed in herself. Something that wasn’t tied to traditions & accomplishments, but to who she was.

So she held sacred space for herself, within herself, to hear herself, and experience herself.

Perhaps that’s what made her full of grace, freely beloved, and beautiful with God’s beauty — not what they thought or said, but who she had the courage to be.

Prayer: Creator God — You who paints the heavens and then turns around and paints us too — grant us the courage, and the vision, and the creativity to be. To genuinely be. To fully be. Give us the courage to construe our worlds from the loved sacred center of ourselves. And give us the courage, and the sensing, and the vision to love ourselves, always.

—by Denise Hill