Archives, Pondering, Songs of Assent

Riding the Ripples

From one angle of vision, Mary’s rebounding “do whatever He tells you” illumines the kind of peace so anchored in her trust in Jesus that she could hold lightly to her plans and wait in harbor for her Son’s next move. But from another direction, her initial commentary at the wedding in Cana was itself a risk. Once the words, “they have no more wine” were out of Mary’s mouth, she was involved. What was it to her that the wedding celebration was about to wane?

Mary was a woman who had long known Yahweh’s priorities of mercy and care for those who are helpless. The same Holy Spirit who conceived the Christ in her womb had also brought forth her song of testimony to Jesus’ Father. It is his nature to lift up those who are struggling and fill the hungry with good things. These truths, so evident in the later ministry of her Son, had not been forgotten once the song left Mary’s lips.

Mary’s buoyancy (the moment-by-moment adjustment of this vulnerable vessel to the wind of the Spirit) did not begin with her response to Jesus, but with the initial comment itself. When she could have minded her own business, she carried the Father’s heart for her neighbor instead. She did not remain safely in harbor when the wind was breathing in her sails. She took the risk, and with it, the adventure the Spirit sent. Move decisively. Wait patiently. Hold the two together not as an artificial tension between “doing and being,” but as moment-by-moment obedience, now sailing into the wind, now waiting for the next breeze.

Sometimes I am tempted to think of these dynamics as the difference between a storm and utter stillness, but Mary reminds me that the actual choices are sometimes as simple as a word, a look in one’s eyes, a willingness to turn aside in this moment for the sake of one’s neighbor. It is easy to see love of neighbor as as a mere ripple in the water when what I am waiting for is a dramatic voyage. But perhaps riding the ripples is far more important than I realize. Perhaps this is what most of the voyage is about.  Maybe that’s part of what Mary knew.

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