It’s been nearly palpable: the darkness, the stillness, the waiting. And though all three are undeniably of value, I have not welcomed them.
The darkness has caused me to see too much, the silence to hear too much, and the waiting to hurt too much. (Even as I type these words, I feel this viscerally-tragically-endlessly over the Sandy Hook tragedy.)
I seek solace. And without fail it finds me. Usually, gratefully, grace-fully in the stories of other women. Women in Scripture. Ancient, sacred narratives that remind me I’m not alone – no matter how dark, still, or seemingly out-of-my-reach-or-control things might seem.
I am not unique in this. Consider Mary.
Too young. Pregnant. Engaged. Afraid. Visited by an angel who asked her to bear an incredible story; an incredible son. Brave. Undaunted. Steady. In her own darkness, stillness, and waiting, she sought solace…and found it in yet another woman. Her cousin Elizabeth.
As the tale is told, Elizabeth, upon hearing Mary’s story, praised her. And in response, Mary sang these words, the Magnificat:
My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.
Insightful. Inspiring. No matter the theology or even gendered language inherent, the veil of darkness undeniably lifts and silence scatters in the strains of her song. The waiting somehow feels worthwhile.
Even more incredible, this: Mary and Elizabeth found solace in one another and in yet another story of a woman in their ancient, sacred narratives. They knew that hundreds of years earlier, Hannah had sung this same song when she gave birth to a son after her own years of darkness, stillness, and waiting in infertility…and in hope.
Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear? Do you feel what I feel?
No matter how long or dark the night, solace is found and hope sustained in the interconnected stories of women.
Hannah. Mary. Elizabeth. Me. You.
And so many more.
We are part of an old, old song; an ancient, sacred lineage of women whose stories bind us to one another – and to ourselves.
When we tell them the darkness disperses. When we tell them the silence ends. When we tell them waiting transforms to sustainable hope.
Tomorrow’s Winter Solstice will arrive. This you can depend on. And with it, the valuable marking of darkness, silence, and waiting. But equally dependable (and infinitely valuable), this: you are not alone. Neither am I.
Find, hear, tell, feel, and rely on the stories of women; the lineage to which you are ever-bound, by which you are ever-supported, and through which you are ever-seen and heard. Solace, to be sure.