Mary the Still Pool

January 1, 2017

Have you ever thrown a rock into still pool of water? I am sure most of us have. Imagine yourself walking through a quiet wood. The sunlight is filtering through the trees, the air is cool on your face, and if you hear anything at all it is just the echo the breeze makes in your ears as it blows softly by. All of these things serve to add to the serenity of a simple, quiet walk, in the woods.

You come to a small stream and follow it to a still pond. The surface of the pond is as smooth as glass and perfectly reflects its surroundings, the trees of the forest, the blue of the sky with a few wisps of clouds, and perhaps even a distant mountain.

You pick up a small stone at your feet and toss it into the water. The sound of its “plunk” seems thunderous in the still air. The disturbance causes ripples on the surface of the pond. They start out strong but as they move further away from the source of the disturbance they weaken. Soon the ripples have vanished altogether and the pond is once again as still as it ever was, all clarity and light.

The heart of Mary, the mother of Jesus, must have been like that. She had a busy life, full of taking care of her son and her husband. But she kept a calmness of heart that allowed her to hear the many gentle messages that God sent her through the events of her life. We are told that she “kept all these things and reflected on them in her heart.”

Her heart was like the smooth surface of a deep pond: clear and quiet, and able to reflect perfectly the trees, the sky, and the distant mountains. When a rock was thrown into it, she absorbed it through deep refection. The ripples caused by the disturbance smoothed out and vanished back into the pond. And she was back to clarity and light.

The heart of Mary was well ordered and uncluttered, in order to receive the word of God and respond to His call. This is the type of active silence we should all strive to attain.

It is part of our human nature that children take after their parents. Parents teach their children how to be human, how to navigate in the busy, noisy world we are all part of.

The same is true of our spiritual life. In baptism, we are reborn in water and Spirit. Baptism is our spiritual birth. Through baptism we become brothers and sisters in Christ, children of God.

In this spiritual rebirth the Spirit of God comes to dwell within our souls. Our spiritual life consists in allowing the Spirit to grow within us, transforming us into creatures of clarity and light. The work of the Spirit is to transform each one of us into mature, wise, and fruitful followers of Jesus Christ.

As spiritual brothers and sisters of Christ we are also spiritual children of Mary, His mother. Recall that as He hung on the cross He gave us His mother as our own.

Mary was the mother of Jesus in the flesh, she is our mother in grace. And just as we learn from our mothers how to be human, we learn from Mary how to become divine, we learn how to be mature Christians, strong in our faith. She is the living school from whom we learn every virtue that leads to happiness and holiness.

Mary teaches us the virtue of wisdom. In her heart she reflected on the workings of God in her life. Just as her womb was open to receive the living word of God at the moment of the incarnation, so her heart was constantly open to receive God's ongoing words and messages as He continued to speak through the events of her life.

The capacity and habit to reflect in our heart on God's action in our lives, like ripples across a quiet pond, is a sign and a source of wisdom. It is a habit we desperately need to cultivate.

The world is full of distractions, shiny things that demand our attention and unimportant things that loom large in our imagination.

Through prayer and reflection we let the light of Christ shine into the dark corners of our lives and allow His grace to smooth the ripples and waves caused by the busy world we live in.

Pax Vobiscum

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