As tomorrow is Christmas, I thought it might be a treat to share a Pinterest link to some of my favorite and unique images of Mary and the infant Jesus. Interestingly, in these images, we are able to glimpse perhaps a different perspective of Mary and Jesus through different periods and cultures. With every new day, we too are each invited to contemplate just who Jesus is and desires to be in our own lives. And given our own unique socio-historical context, we may envision this in a beautiful array of color and dimension.
Growing up, I am blessed to say that I was given a beautiful gift of understanding anticipation. My mom seemed to truly come into herself during advent season. Each day had purpose and though we had little, what we had seemed ample and even brimming desiring to be shared. Handcrafted ornaments and embroidery projects, while seeming to encapsulate every spare minute, also engendered joyous expectation of their future reception. A new tin of old fashioned candy, a bowl of mixed unshelled nuts, the smell of homemade fudge and fresh bread, days spent rediscovering our favorites and making memories together.
One of my first lucid memories of anticipation took place one advent when I was about 6 years old. Having spent the afternoon with my older brother, my mom had taken the opportunity to do a bit of Christmas shopping. With a gleam in her eye and an urging that she not be disturbed, she turned to carry the small bag of purchases into the bedroom. So curious, I strained to peek in the crevice of the door only to see light dancing around the room. What could it be that could catch and reflect the light so beautifully? Sounds of a flurry of paper and tape and the sparkling stopped.
Then suddenly music played, the tune of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, setting my mind racing again. I had seen a performance of the Nutcracker just days before on a televised Christmas Special and instantly it filled my imagination that I too might dance one day. That night and every one after it that season, I spent dreaming and anticipating what could be in those two little boxes underneath the tree.
Although I had accumulated many ideas as to what they enclosed, I was not prepared for the fullness of the gift itself. Christmas morning came and I ran into my mother’s bedroom hardly containing my joy to find my mom already awake enjoying a quiet moment and a cup of coffee. There she sat, proudly wearing my gift to her, brightly colored floral embroidery work I had wrought on the neckline of a shirt she had sewn. She too had anticipated this moment and hurriedly went to retrieve the last gifts under the tree. Slowly I unwrapped the small rhinestone tiara, intended to commemorate first place in the local beauty pageant held just months earlier. As the community was not wealthy, and I was in the youngest division they had presented me with flowers instead.
Placing it atop my head, and looking up at my mom tears of joy filled her eyes. She was looking at me as only a mother could, as she had in all of my 7 years prior, with profound love seeing the beauty within. I could not hold it in any longer, I had to tell her of my stolen glance, of the light dancing, and of the nights of endless anticipation. But what of the music, what of the familiar song I had heard? With a furrowed brow but smiling she responded, “Open your next gift Elizabeth and you shall see!” Peeling the paper away, I uncovered to my delight a music box- marvelously gilded with fleur de lei and a ballerina performing her pirouettes flawlessly.
So much thought and love put into each of these gifts and yet my mother’s gift went beyond that which was wrapped. She had given the gift of anticipation not just for what I would open that day but for who I could be. Years later, I did take dance classes and remember clearly the day I advanced to Pointe and tried on my first toe shoes. While I never became a gifted ballerina, I learned the connection between anticipation, hope, patience and the experience of beauty and gift of a mother’s love.
You are invited to join me this week for An Engaging Faith on Breadbox Media daily at 4pm EST.
Enter To Win a Copy of
Spiritually Ableby David and Mercedes Rizzo (Loyola Press),River of Graceby Susan Bailey (Ave Maria Press) orGod With Us by Greg Wolfe (Paraclete Press),
Drawing runs 11/20-12/ 4 Click to enter..
David and Mercedes Rizzo of Spiritually Able, Susan Bailey with River of Grace, Greg Wolfe with God With Us
andMargaret Felicerounds off our week with a Catholic round table of discussion withFelice Fridays!
Monday:David and Mercedes Rizzo,David is a physical therapist who works with children and adults with developmental and physical disabilities. He is the author and presenter of a professional rehabilitation seminar entitled “Autism: Where neuroscience meets clinical practice.” David and his wife Mercedes have four children, one of whom, Danielle, has autism and is non-verbal. Dave and Mercedes developed picture-based materials and activities to explain the sacraments to Danielle to help prepare her for Holy Communion. This was featured on the Diocese of Trenton television program The Catholic Corner and in the Our Sunday Visitormagazine. They are here today to share their journey and to speak to their latest book Spiritually Able.
Tuesday:Susan Bailey, is a blogger, musician, and speaker who frequently contributes to CatholicMom.com and the Association of Catholic Women Bloggers. Her work has also appeared on Catholic.net, and Catholic Online. Bailey blogs at Be as One and Louisa May Alcott is My Passion. She also writes a monthly column for The Catholic Free Press called Be as One. A professional musician and graphic artist, Bailey released three CDs, performed on EWTN and CatholicTV and at World Youth Day in 2002. She joins us to discuss her bookRiver of Grace: Creative Passages Through Difficult Times.
Wednesday:Jacqueline O’Toole owner ofSea el Cambioand ONE enterprises created to work in close collaboration with artisans in Nicaragua to transform lives and provide handcrafted fair trade products. Translated from Gandhi’s quote “You must be the change you wish to see in the world,” Sea el Cambio encourages customers to “be the change.” All products are ethically sourced through long-lasting partnerships with Nicaraguan artisans. Sea el Cambio works with these artisans to design handmade jewelry, pottery, bags, and paper goods. By increasing market access, our artisans have a reliable and steady source of income to support their families. Sea el Cambio donates a portion of its profits to FNE International who is working within the artisans communities to improve their living conditions.
Thursday: Greg Wolfe, is editor of Image, one of America’s leading quarterly journals. He serves as Writer in Residence and Director of the low-residency MFA in Creative Writing program at Seattle Pacific University. His literary imprint, Slant Books, is published by Wipf & Stock. Wolfe’s books include Beauty Will Save the World, Intruding upon the Timeless, and The Operation of Grace. He has served as a judge for the National Book Awards. He is here with us today to discuss God With Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas, a book he is co-editor of along with Greg Pennoyer
Felice Fridays!: Margaret Felice, Boston College alumnae and faculty member of Religion and Performing Arts at BC High in Boston MA, Opera Singer and blogger joins us for a fun an engaging talk about all things Catholi