Today is the Feast of the Visitation, a church festival day which has only recently become important to me. This feast day celebrates the time that Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Both women are pregnant in miraculous ways: Mary hasn't had sex, and Elizabeth is beyond her fertile years. Yet both are pregnant. Elizabeth will give birth to John the Baptist, and Mary will give birth to Jesus.
You might ask, why on earth is this ancient church festival important today? This story has several messages that many of us need to hear today.
Lately I've been interested in this story as a story of women who say yes to the improbable, the impossible. They open their lives to all sorts of possibilities. Lately, I've noticed how many people are used to saying "No. Absolutely not. Too big a risk. The consequences of failure will be too awful. That time of my life is over." On and on they go, slamming doors, walking away from possibilities, saying no to every adventure.
And something inside shrivels. The self that can hear the still, small voice stops listening because it's too painful to always face the denial.
Today is a good day to think about what we've denied. Maybe it's time to return to it. As long as we have breath in our bodies, it's not too late.
Today is also a good day to think about these physical bodies that we inhabit. Here, too, many of us grow too used to the idea that we have physical limitations that can never be overcome. In the stories of Mary and Elizabeth, we see an overarching narrative where God finds a way when biology would say there is no way.
The world tells us of all the ways that things can go terribly wrong. We need to remember that often we take the first steps, and we get more encouragement than we expected. God or the universe or destiny, however you think of it, meets us more than halfway.
So today, on this feast day that celebrates unlikely miracles, let's practice saying yes. For one day, let's quiet the negative voices that shout at us. Today, let us try to remember all of the dreams we might have discarded as improbable, impossible. Nourish all the possibilities. Let's choose one possibility and try it on for size. Let that dream incubate a bit. Let it swell and grow into a full-blown alternative.
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