Before I picked up Denise Bossert’s Gifts of the Visitation: Nine Spiritual Encounters with Mary and Elizabeth, I had run into a very short meditation on Mary’s visit to Elizabeth on a friend’s tumblr.
the first christian and the first person to make a declaration of christian faith
the visitation is so important. 2 pregnant women, caring for each other, prophesying, acting radically on their faith in god’s power and intention to lift up the lowly, knowing their sons will do incredible things while probably apprehensive about the danger they would face, and meanwhile the only dude around is mute
Bossert’s series of reflections uses the Visitation to bring Mary’s virtues into focus, and, in her consideration of each one, she explores where this strength expressed itself elsewhere in Mary’s life and where Bossert herself succeeds and struggles to allow space for these gifts in her own life.
There were virtues I expected to see listed (humility, readiness, etc), but what I found most striking was Bossert’s choice to explore these aspects of Mary as she expressed them before the birth of Christ, when, during what I might have thought of a period of waiting, Mary was already in motion, sharing love with Elizabeth.
When I might be running “When Will My Life Begin?” again in my head, I could stand to look over this passage from Bossert’s book:
Is it time to take a look around you and see who needs some practical assistance? Who needs a little help just to get through the day? Can you become Mary to another Elizabeth? Perhaps you have overlooked someone because you tend to see someone from your own perspective and are caught in a trap of elevating yourself and your own position as a Christ-bearer. Is there someone who is not seen by the crowds, but who is far greater than you in this mission to share Christ? Can you receive that one with hospitality even as Elizabeth recieved Mary into her home?
If hospitality is not a gift you possess on a natural level, are you open to receiving supernatural help in this area?
I’m working on developing my hospitality reflexes (what Capon would call my capacity to be a “fat mother”), and Bossert’s book is a reminder that I don’t need to wind up at the center of the activity when I’m trying to offer my home to others. And that spending time with others isn’t what I’m doing while I wait to have a settled life of my own, it’s an end in itself.
I received a review copy as part of the Patheos Book Club.