Saturday of the First Week


GN 3: 9-15, 20

EPH 1: 3-6, 11-12

LK 1: 26-38


On love and motherhood…

Read with me the brief, emotional, lively words of ee cummings (1935): 

love is a place

love is a place
& through this place of
love move
(with brightness of peace)
all places

yes is a world
& in this world of
yes live
(skilfully curled)
all worlds

I’ve read these words hundreds of times, and today’s readings made me think of them again. A place that is all places, a world that is all worlds. Our readings for the day begin with the mother of all the living and conclude with the mother of all. She is the mother of all living, and within her is the mother of all. 

The gospel writer’s story of Mary hearing the news from the angel Gabriel encapsulates the feelings one has as a new mother: the excitement that there will be a baby! the anxiety about whether we’re up to the challenge, the realization that life will never be the same, and then more anxiety about whether we’re up for the challenge. Imagine the amplification of those emotions if the child is The Child! She is very collected in her acceptance, as Gabriel departs, but imagine her excitement: running to her cousin, confirming their pregnancies together, and then sharing in the wonder and fear.

The words of another poet describe the initiation into the mysteries of motherhood: “Let Silence think, for how can words reveal / Her full devotion of ecstatic thought, / When Mary ponder'd on that promised Child? / Let mothers tell!” (Robert Montgomery, The Messiah, Book III, 75-78). I remember when I first realized I was going to be a mother. I had watched my mother, my grandmothers, my aunts, my cousins, my friends, and strangers as they raised children. Before that moment, in my naiveté, I had no doubt that it would be perfectly fine when I joined their ranks. But when that moment came, I was unprepared for the adrenaline rush! I couldn’t believe it was going to happen (despite all my planning and preparing for it to happen), and my mind quickly cycled through: How will the next few months go? Wow! This is happening! Oh, how are we going to do this? Well, we will just do it. But how are the next few months going to go? Wow! And so on… When I read the description from Luke, I recall that cycle of emotions and questioning and acceptance vividly, and I know that is yet another thing I share with my foremothers, including the mother of Jesus and her mother before her. The intensity is difficult to put into words and share with others, but once you’ve felt it, you know it and you recognize it in others. 

Motherhood is anticipation, wonder and joy, obligation, and acceptance. It is a depth of feeling beyond all conceivable depth. It is a love that is all loves. The wonder and joy are what we celebrate in this season of the celebration of Jesus' birth. Let us also celebrate the anticipation, obligation, and acceptance of His mother's love. And as we are surrounded by mothers and motherhood, let’s also appreciate their embodiment of all love. 

Martha A. Adkins
Reference Librarian
Helen K. and James S. Copley Library