I would like to share my story of the day that Mary, the Mother of God, whispered to me.
It was December of 2015. I was writing my column, my annual Christmas Message. I wanted to tell the story of Jesus from the perspective of Mary. I started five or six times and every time, I became frustrated, deleted everything and started again. I was struggling and making no progress when one line slipped out in first person. Instantly I knew that I could not tell her story. I had to allow her to tell it as only she could. So, I opened my mind to the truth that is Mary’s alone and words began to easily flow. Like water they flowed and I do not believe, even now, that the words were mine. I will always be grateful for whisperings of heaven.
I wanted to present this story to my family in a way that would mean as much to them as it did to me. I placed a beautiful piece of distressed Hickey on my lathe and began turning a large vessel that reminded me of the type Mary might have used to carry water to her family. At our family Christmas party my beautiful wife, dressed as Mary, entered the room with the vessel in her arms. She knelt before the family, filled the vessel from an imaginary well, set the vessel to one side and began to read… the words of Mary!
With great effort, I lifted the clay vessel and began my daily trek to the well. I loved this part of each day. The well was a place of revival, refreshment, leisure and respite from the toil and struggle that was my life. For a few brief moments, I sat in the shade and placed my feet in cool water. I laughed and visited with friends as we whispered those things that cause a young girl’s eyes to grow large and her cheeks to blush. Soon enough, it was time to fill my vessel with life giving water and make the return trip to my home. But first, I dipped my cup in the cool, clear water and drank deeply.
This place is the Well of Nazareth. It exists today but now carries my name… it is Mary’s Well.
It was here that I, a young virgin, saw Gabriel from on high. He spoke to me and said, “Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.”
As a young mother, I grasped the vessel in one hand and took the small hand of my son in the other. Together, we made our way to the well. He, small but willing, took every step on legs not yet steady or sure. I slowed my pace and watched in wonder as this boy learned and grew. At the well, I sat with other mothers. We visited and watched our children at play. Each woman’s eyes shone as she gazed upon her own with love and pride. For me, it was different. My heart swelled with awe and adoration beyond my understanding. I was the literal mother of the son of God!
Years later, I hurried down the lane that led to the well. I dreaded this part of each day. It was during this hour that I was separated from my son who is the vessel of God. He is the living well. He offered the living water of which I craved. At the well, I was pleasant enough, friendly enough, but I did not linger as in the days of my youth. When I turned toward home, I quickened my pace. Upon entering, I quickly filled a cup from my vessel to quench his thirst. Then, I settled at the feet of my son to drink deeply of living water; water that satisfied my parched soul and replenished my languishing spirit.
Once again, I carried my vessel to the well and lingered as long as possible. It was to this place that news of my son first came. Some brought news of angry and pious men who sought to destroy him. But, most news filled my heart with tender wonder. The blind see, the lame walk, the leaper is clean, the dead live, and the temple is cleansed. I marveled that this little baby, born in a manger, that my tiny son became… ALL! My ears and my mind could not begin to comprehend the things I heard, but my heart always knew… it truly knew.
In the darkness of night, I walked alone. Slowly, I moved toward the well, returning to that place where it all began. Never could I remember feeling so heavy, so utterly devastated. My heart was cold, my soul was shaken… broken. I knew not where to turn for relief. I had witnessed the cruel crucification; the death of my son. In his eyes, I had seen agony, despair and desperation beyond words and beyond all measure. The weight of these visions pressed down on my mind until I could barely breath; until I felt as if my heart might stop forever.
I settled on the great stone steps that lead to the well and poured out my anguish through bitter tears. I felt as if all had been lost; that every good thing in the earth was dead. Then it came as a flood… a flood of living water, familiar, welcome, and cooling to the heat that was my pain. My desperation, my anguish, my despair… eased, faded, and vanished as if they had never been. It was as if great stony scales fell from my heart and I was freed; freed by the eternal power of love, of my son’s love. My eyes could not see him and my ears did not hear, but my heart knew, my mind knew and my spirit soared. I again drank deeply of living water from the vessel that is my son, that is God’s son.
At this Christmas time, I wish to offer but one gift to all men. He was mine first; mine to hold, mine to caress, mine to kiss, mine to cherish, and mine to love. I now give him to you. I give him to every man, woman and child who need to be calmed by living waters. I give him to every community and every nation that you may be washed clean of all impurity. I give him to the whole of the world that you may be redeemed of all evil and rise in triumphant glory. I give him to all, that you may know peace. Drink deeply my beloved friends and be whole.