Day 20

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

Luke 1:41-43  

“Don’t wanna be an American idiot

One nation controlled by the media

Information Age of hysteria

It’s calling out to idiot America” 

“American Idiot”, by Green Day

Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

Mary Oliver

***

Mary never texted Elizabeth to let her know she was coming. Elizabeth answered an unexpected knock one afternoon and found her pregnant niece at the door. As young Mary greeted her aged aunt, their shared circumstance snapped into focus: the wombs of these two women were shaping a prophet and a king.

Elizabeth immediately took in the magnitude of it all. The God of the universe resting in the body of her niece. She gasped, “Why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

What did she do to deserve such a visit? Why did the incarnation show up on her doorstep? How did Elizabeth see through the thick of her time and recognize God? 

My life often feels like a runaway bobsled careening toward Christmas, like someone jackhammered away one of the guardrails that keeps me on the track. The shopping, the shipping, the impeaching. 

Be fully present. 

Be fully present. 

“Ahh! Buy presents,” as Amazon ads for mindfulness tools keep me distracted.

Pay attention. Wake up. Keep alert. But where do I look? Where do I go next? How much can I get? What do I even want? Bombarded by media, soothed to sleep by our comforts, eager for power; our laser focus is softened to a dull ambient glow. Would I even recognize God in the womb of a teenager if she rang my bell?

I hear an oft repeated quip, “I don’t even know what is going on anymore. I can’t keep up.” The world is so confusing. Everyone keeps arguing past each other. We can’t make sense of it. So, we binge on all the new streaming services.

But paying attention is, in itself, a radical practice. Ordering our days so that we are awake, watching, alert, and ready to act is fundamental for radical resistance. As the culture around us succumbs to this world of easily consumable media, sensationalized news bytes, self-righteousness, and self-gratification, to simply pay attention is impetus to smash the machine that keeps us in chains.

Every. Single. Day. God arrives in the womb of teenage mothers, in the eyes of the vulnerable, the unseen and the forgotten. This God will not text us an ETA. She will knock softly, and most of us will be passed out on the couch: exhausted from chasing our desires, commercialed to the brink of death, or lulled into a market-researched slumber that renders us incapable of action. We have a choice, and we need to practice that choice again every day. Will we set our alarms and listen for the knock? 

Be present to your life. To people. Look up. Speak up. Act up. Or, in the words of Mary Oliver, “Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”

***

Rev. Tracey Bianchi is a mom and a freelance writer focused on women’s empowerment and environmental justice. She just stepped down from sixteen years as a pastor and now has nothing else fancy to write in her bio.