2012 is drawing to a close as I sit by a river in Tennessee. I was here last weekend as well, when the world didn't end. It's becoming a tradition. Back in May of 2011, when the "rapture" was set to occur, I was sitting here as well, sipping coffee, writing in my journal, watching ripples on the river water. In a way, this peaceful place is the perfect setting for my theme wrap-up.
2012 was my year of Mary. Is my year of Mary, since 2013 hasn't quite broken the horizon yet. Last year, at around this time, I felt certain God wanted me to focus on Mary this year. I haven't taken up praying to Mary, but I have pondered her life and how she lived it. I've turned "Let it be" into a mantra, a phrase I repeat inside my mind, praying that Jesus will help me to mean it. Saying "Let it be" is easy enough, but actually letting it be, is a whole other ballgame.
I left my Holy Family out all year, sitting quietly on a bookshelf, a wooden labyrinth behind Mary and Joseph and their sweet little baby. I used a daily devotion book called Through the Year with Mary, and there were some delicious little nuggets of truth and insight to be found amid the pages. I read a book called Showing Mary, and I highly recommend it.
Summer sent me on an unexpected detour, a side trip to visit a different Mary. First, I signed with a literary agent, and discovered Margaret George to be one of his other authors. I really enjoyed Memoirs of Cleopatra when I was in college, so I decided to read another of her fictional biographies. I chose Mary Called Magdalene, and I was plunged into a world different from my own but somehow very familiar as well. I found myself looking at Jesus in a brand new light, really thinking about his teachings and what he might have meant by so many controversial statements.
In the middle of reading Margaret's tale of Mary, I boarded an airplane and made a pilgrimage to Seattle, where my husband and I led a group of teenagers and a couple of other adults into the heart of homeless ministry. The shelter where we served? It was called Mary's Place. The church where we worshipped with many of those women? It was named for Mary as well. I felt God so near that week in Seattle.
The second half of the year has included some disappointments, some failings. I wonder if Mary felt like a failure when her son was executed. I don't believe for a minute that she knew or expected how his story would end, or seem to end. She said, "Let it be," but torture and death weren't the events she agreed to. Were they? Maybe, on that final day, Mary felt like a failure, just as I've felt lately. It would only be three days before she knew He was alive again, before He revealed that part of His divinely ordered plan. I'm clinging to that bit of hope, the chance that my current feelings of failure will be somehow transformed. Maybe, by this time next year, I will see my mistakes and rejections as seeds, their limbs already stretching to the sky, their buds almost ready to blossom.
As 2013 approaches and my Year of Mary fades silently away, I am saying again, even knowing how weak my heart feels, Let it be, Lord, let it be.