Note: As if to prove my point about not knowing my Bible people so well, Joy left a comment to tell me that that I had Mary and Martha mixed up. Martha was the doer, Mary the listener. Oh well, I guess I made my point! me
I can remember being asked in a church study group what woman from the Bible would you be? Not being a student of the Bible, I was hard pressed to think of any biblical women that I might resemble. Eve? Not that much of a rule breaker. The Virgin Mary? Not that Holy. Ruth? I'm a follower, for sure. At the time I probably picked Mary who, unlike her sister Martha, was all about making things nice for Jesus when he visited. Yup, that would have been me. I like being on the outside or in the kitchen. Close enough to hear what's going on, but not in the thick of things. What I didn't know, until I started getting Ronna Detrick's weekly emails, is there are a lot of women in the Bible - some with names, some without - whose lives were barely recorded and didn't carry nearly as much weight as the men they were married to or served.
Here's the blessing I received today:
Like me, you have lived a full life. Full of sadness, grief, and loss. Full of love, joy, and hope. I know.
Like me, you know and see the truth that exists around you. Full of risk at times, but necessary always. I know.
Like me you are hungry for ways in which you can feel connected to something larger than yourself, something that nearly undoes you in it's beauty and power. Full of the sacred, the mystery, the impossible to understand. I know.
And like me, you are overcome by joy - if not the experience of it, the desire for it. This is my legacy and gift to you: all the joy you desire and deserve. You are not alone. You are seen, heard, understood, and honored. I am Anna and you are my daughter, my lineage, my kin.
Every one of Ronna's short blessings from Biblical women has made me rethink the the stories I've heard since I was a kid in Sunday school. I've never really thought about how the DNA from these women could be part of the woman I am today.
As an aside, I read an article a few weeks ago that said scientists have somehow determined that some of the earliest cave drawings were done by women, not men. I think it had something to do with the size of the hands. It makes sense, doesn't it? Women, were the cave keepers, mothers, wives, and story tellers. Of course they would have painted their walls. What women doesn't want to doll up her surroundings?
Did you see the word "joy" right there in the middle of the blessing? I'm finding that just by thinking about the word for these writing exercises, joy is popping up a lot more than I ever expected. Yesterday's SSJE word was watch, today's show up. Watching, I think, takes more action that the previous word - notice. In order to watch, you have to be present - you have to show up. Watching, to me, infers that once something is noticed - joy, for instance - it must be tended and embraced. It is in the watching that the ordinary becomes sacred and the impossible becomes possible.
My neighbor's husband died last week after a long illness. She came over today to look at the bears I make. Like the pieces of a shattered mirror, her broken heart was reflected in her eyes. I doubt seriously that she even has words like joy in her vocabulary these days. She's never been an outgoing person, she stood silently stalwart in her husband's shadow. I worry about her spending so much time alone in her house where memories haunt as well as heal.
I know what it feels like to spend the holidays without the person you've just lost. I know that no matter how hard you try, there is nothing joyous or merry about the season. I've learned, though, that what people say is true. At some point in the future you will begin to come back to life. At first, if you keep an eye peeled for the magic of transformation, you will notice little things. You'll catch yourself smiling at something the cat does. Or you'll say your beloved's name without crying. Like a crocus when it begins to push up through a snow covered garden, first the tip of a green leaf appears, then purple petals poke their heads through the white ground cover. Given enough time the world loses it's grey shadows, and begins to sparkle with all the colors of the rainbow.
In today's writing by Ronna, Anna became a widow at an early age and spent the rest of her life in the temple worshiping and praying and watching. In her old age she realized the miracle she'd been praying for, the Messiah, had appeared. She was undoubtedly filled with more joy than she'd ever known. Her legacy, says Detrick, is the "joy all of us desire and deserve." Even if you, like my neighbor, are not feeling it, joy is your birthright. Watch for it and you may be surprised.
May it be so.
Please check out Ronna's website. You'll be glad you did.