Shirin McArthur

prayerful pondering

Farewells

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I’ve said a lot of farewells this past week. It was my last time to participate in many of my Silver City activities: laughter yoga, Reiki share, after-school program, hiking date (with some beautiful views of the town)IMG_1998 and, today, church. There’s a real bittersweet nature to saying farewell, even if I might return to some of these for a visit. I will no longer be a “regular,” a part of the community. It’s a definite shift in consciousness, and belonging.

Moves from one city to another aren’t the only occasions for such shifts. The move from one job to another, or from work to retirement, can cause such a shift. The move from single to married status can cause a definite shift in activities, as can the birth of a child.

And that’s where I find myself connecting with Advent this week. Mary experienced a major shift in her life, from being a single young girl, betrothed but still living at home, to being a woman with child, living with Joseph. I can imagine that her tasks changed, and that she began to spend time with the older, married women instead of the young girls in her village. She would have experienced significant shifts in consciousness during this time, from youth to womanhood, from childhood to childbearing.

Her community was also changing its perception of her, from child to adult, and perhaps also to someone of questionable virtue, given that she was visibly going to give birth to a child long before the nine months since her wedding day.

I wonder what kinds of farewells Mary said, in her heart or out loud, to her childhood community, her family, her circle of belonging. I wonder what fears, and hopes, she carried with her into her new roles. Some of my roles will not change because of my move to Tucson; I’ll still be a freelance writer and editor, for instance. But I will need to forge new relationships with groups within the community, as I did in Silver City. I need to find new ways to belong, just as Mary did over two thousand years ago.

I also pray that I will have the strength of heart and faith to sing with confidence as I travel into the unknown. Like Mary, I’m going to be with family. Like Mary, I have seen the fingerprints of God in various stages of this moving process. I pray that I might create my own version of the Magnificat, singing along with Mary: “My soul glorifies my Creator, my spirit rejoices in God! For Henry and I have felt the hand of God’s favor in so many ways….”

Think for a moment about the most recent set of farewells you have experienced in your own life, or some transition taking place in your life in this season. What was the occasion for the change? What shifts of consciousness, and belonging, took place for you? Create your own Magnificat for that season or this one in which you await Christ’s coming.

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