“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
–The Magnificat, Luke 1:47-55, also sung by the monks of New Clairvaux Abbey during Compline
“Now, therefore, I am known to ye by [many names], and to [them] by a secret name which I will give [them] when at last [they] know me. Since I am Infinite Space, and the Infinite Stars thereof, do ye also thus. Bind nothing! Let there be no difference made among you between any one thing & any other thing; for thereby there cometh hurt. [...]
Invoke me under my stars! Love is the law, love under will. Nor let the fools mistake love; for there are love and love. There is the dove, and there is the serpent. Choose ye well!”
–From the Circle of Cerridwen version of the Charge of the Goddess adapted by Jocobo Polanshek
I was going to write about Nelson Mandela when I started this a few days ago, but I think that most everyone has said what’s been needed to be said. Adding more just seems like being redundant. I will say that Nelson Mandela has always been a huge inspiration to me. I kind of think of him as a far away mentor through his words and actions. His autobiography opened me up to a vision of the world that was better, kinder, and just.
It was a prophecy that peace, justice, and compassion would prevail. A vision of something better for the world. It’s actually a burden to have that kind of vision. I know, because I have a vision of such a world, too. It’s a world where poverty is no more and people can get an education without worrying about how to afford it. Where healthcare is free because we believe that people shouldn’t have to die because they can’t pay. A world where racism, sexism, ableism, and body shaming are a distant memory. Where people are able to live to their fullest potential because we as a society believe that everyone has the right to do so.
It might sound naive. But it’s a vision I want to make happen. And it’s a vision that’s hard to live with because I can see it so vividly in my head that sometimes, when the vision clashes with reality, it can be a disappointment. Every now and then the disappointment becomes despair. Will the world every change? Could that vision ever become reality?
But then I remember, I’m not the only person with this kind of vision. There are others like me who see something better for the world. There are people with many names and many faces, but they all share this vision with me. Maybe the details of the vision are different, but all of us carry the burden of seeing something beautiful and full of possibilities in a world that hasn’t caught up, yet.
So, I suppose the question for this second Sunday of Advent is: Do we surrender to the prophecy of a better world, a peaceful world, finding hope in the small miracles? Do we choose the dove or the serpent? Despair or action?
Even Mary had a choice.