Christy Wilkens ponders how we can seek shelter with Mary against the pain and darkness of this earthly world.
In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan
Earth stood hard as iron
Water like a stone
Snow had fallen
Snow on snow on snow
In the bleak midwinter
Long, long ago.
The imagery in this hymn is landing hard for me this year. Moaning. Hardness. Iron and stone. One layered, heavy thing upon another upon yet another.
It’s enough to make one want to curl up into a ball and just … succumb.
There’s a lovely image in St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary that suggests this might be exactly the thing to do. “Mary is the great mold of God,” he writes.
In that mold none of the features of the Godhead is wanting. Whoever is cast in it, and allows himself to be molded, receives all the features of Jesus Christ, true God. The work is done gently, in a manner proportioned to human weakness, without much pain or labor.
The pattern of Christ left its imprint in Mary’s womb. During these last days of Advent, every delicate feature of our Messiah was being woven into existence, from the cells of Mary’s own body under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
When I am struggling (and oh, am I struggling these days), I find it very comforting to think that I don’t need to do anything but draw closer to Mary. The urge to succumb, to cocoon, to curl myself up into fetal position… that’s exactly where she wants me. I am no more responsible for my own formation, in my worst and most tender weakness, than an unborn child is.
I need to be still, to rest with the Blessed Mother, to let her own love and perfect faith work on me until I am put back together and ready to be with Jesus again.
There was room in the stable for Jesus. There is room for you too: to be formed in Mary’s womb, in His image, after His pattern. As He came to us through her, we can return to Him by the same way.
The bleak midwinter, the frost and hard iron earth, cannot reach us, when we submit ourselves to this gentle, delicate re-formation of our souls. We are sheltered. We are loved. We are tucked inside, in the space between the pain of now and the joy of eternity, in the wordless place where we moan, waiting for the light.
Copyright 2021 Christy Wilkens
Images: Canva Pro; Michael Rieser, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
About the Author
Christy Wilkens, wife and mother of six, is an armchair philosopher who lives in Austin, TX. She writes at FaithfulNotSuccessful.com about disability, faith, doubt, suffering, community, and good reads. Her first book, Awakening at Lourdes: How an Unanswered Prayer Healed Our Family and Restored Our Faith, a memoir about a pilgrimage with her husband and son, will be released by Ave Maria Press in 2021.