Pondering these things...

Po Lori S. Odhner
This painting by Richard Cook  of the newborn baby Jesus, with Mary and Joseph, evokes the spiritual power of this long-awaited advent.

"But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart." (Luke 2:19)

What does it feel like to ponder? Mary had given birth to the Light of the World. Did she have any idea what that entailed?

She wanted to. Mary was innocent enough to walk a path with no trail to follow.

Women have a penchant for words. They want to speak them, they long to hear them. But sometimes even words are unworthy containers for what must be known.

The paradox is that here I am, expecting words to convey to you an experience of pondering. It cannot be done. But if that same experience is shining wordlessly inside of you too, then the wires connect and we all light up.

Pondering happens when we lay down our assumptions. We are rendered vulnerable, because the terrain is new.

Once I was pondering about how to bridge the cavern between What I was Given and What I had Hoped For. I talked less, because words were not my stepping stones. Sometimes I just stared vacantly, chin in my palm. I suppose my family whispered about it. But pondering usurps energy, and shuts down my mouth just like digesting lunch shuts down my strength to swim, reprimanding me with a cramp in the side.

There are no Cliff Notes for pondering. You have to let it set awhile, like bread rising.

On the other side of pondering is a resting place. There are no celebrations, or ribbons to run through. You know you are there because the floorboards are beneath your feet again, not like when you sat on your grandmother's couch and your legs dangled in the air.

Mary found the new terrain to be marvelous, but that did not also provide protection from pain.

"And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, 'Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.'" (Luke 2:35)

In the aftermath of pondering, hearts are revealed. That aperture is an invitation to see brightly what had been in darkness. Life breaks us open too, and it hurts. But the agony of cracking open is short lived, not like the paralysis of staying shut.

Lori Odhner

Caring for Marriage