When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to meThe Beatles
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Over 43 years ago, the song, Let It Be was released by The Beatles. It quickly hit number one in the United States and about a month after its release, Paul McCartney announced his departure from the band. McCartney, who wrote the lyrics, says that the song is about a dream in which his mom, Mary (who died of cancer when he was 14), appeared to him saying the words “let it be.”
Over the years, fans and critics have speculated on the song’s meaning and whether or not “Mother Mary” may have been a reference to Mary, the mother of Jesus. McCartney has maintained that there is no religious meaning to the song but that’s the beauty of the words we write, they often land in unexpected ways and places and times. Such works become the property, and part of the story, of the receiver, meeting them wherever they are.
Today is Christmas Eve and a key element of the Christian story is Mary of Nazareth’s Fiat, her “yes” to God’s invitation to bear His son, Jesus. Depending on the particular translation, Luke 1:38 reads: And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Mary’s “let it be” changed everything.
Awe and Wonder
Growing up, the Christmas Season was a time of awe and wonder. To that little boy, the anticipation of Christmas day itself was an ecstasy, an overwhelming sensation of joy and happiness. The gifts, the gatherings, the traditions, captured my imagination in a way that would have been indescribable – I had no words for ecstasy or euphoria or delight. At the time, I’m sure it was the gifts that were center-stage, but the memories encompass so much more.
Last week, we had the chance to attend two different live Holiday performances: a Yuletide Celebration of song and dance with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and a Charlie Brown Christmas live performance. Both took me back to the ecstasy of youthful awe and wonder, a time when I found myself lost in the moments, swept away by joy. My sensations were affirmed in the faces of three of our grandchildren, who attended Charlie Brown with us. When was the last time your eyes were wide in wonder?
For a few hours last week, we were lost in the moments. The crazy busyness that has become the Christmas Season and the race to yearend buries so much underneath its frenetic expectations. Mostly, it buries us. But, for a while, time stopped and we found ourselves enraptured with song, dance, story, and companionship. Ours was the euphoria of timelessness and the carefree forgetfulness of all worry. Ecstasy.
Surprised by Joy
Looking back over the last few weeks, the two performances we attended were interruptions. They were two more commitments that needed to be checked-off the list of to do’s. Sandwiched between multiple events we were hosting, there was really no time for them. They were indulgent and put additional pressure on getting things done. Thank God we said “Yes.”
Isn’t that life? Running hard at whatever objective is next on the list, we occasionally get surprised by that something that hits us in unexpectedly joyful ways. Ecstasy appears in our assent. Think about it: assent at the right time, in the right place, and to the right invitation, can bring a euphoria, an ecstasy of sensation as we get lost in the moment. Waking up from such a dream, we think, “why don’t we do this more often?” We know it’s waiting out there but we forget and find ourselves surprised by joy coming at us from unexpected directions.
But that’s the thing about joy, we can’t manufacture it. We may try but it cannot be contrived. We can seek but we usually only find the temporary fix, and real joy remains elusive. To grasp for it is to watch it slip away. It is a gift, a grace. Joy seems to appear when we surrender. When we assent to the unexpected, and often unwanted, invitation.
Contemplating Our Invitation
Today is Christmas Eve. This is a time to contemplate those things greater than us and our invitation to participate in them. Think about the moments ahead:
- Gatherings to share family, history, stories, memories, and love.
- Gifts to acknowledge, to bring joy, to return to some place of surprise and wonder.
- Food to enliven the senses – to surrender to the sensuousness of taste and sight and smell.
- Sounds to remind us of joy – to draw us into the conversations, to lose ourselves in the music and the laughter.
- Touch – hugs, kisses, handholding – to touch is to say yes to connection, to share at our most basic level some common ground of intimacy and familiarity.
What awesome gifts! When does time stop? When we assent to the awe and wonder of a moment, a person, a scene, or an experience of the senses. When we surrender to the possible and get lost in something beyond us and our own limited perspective. We say “let it be” and allow ourselves to let go long enough for the ecstatic to permeate our heart and our soul.
There is something magical about the Christmas Season. It’s an invitation to the unseen, but felt; the hard to hold, but known; the ephemeral, but impactful; the passing, but real. It is an invitation to the ecstasy of the senses and the spirit…if we assent. If we open our hearts long enough to see the good in each other and surrender to the call to pour ourselves out and allow the peace and joy and communion of the season to enter.
Speaking Words of Wisdom
Why do things appear when they do? A word, a song, a note, a person. There is actually a pretty steady flow of all of them, however, we are often not ready to receive. We may not be looking or listening. We are probably distracted. But sometimes, these things break through and hit us when we need them. They find us when we least expect. How will we respond?
This Season, let it be timeless, let it be togetherness, let it be forgiveness, let it be patience, let it be love. Let it be beyond my own smallness – that I might find the greatness waiting in my assent, my great “yes” to being all that I was made to be – who I was made to be. Lead with your assent, your “yes” to the possibility of these moments, and see if time stops like those days behind you when you could still see moments so grand that your mind couldn’t quite grasp along with feelings that your heart couldn’t quite contain.
May we all get lost in the moments ahead as we surrender to the mystical opportunity present when we come together at the right place and the right time with the right heart. Let it be and see what happens. You may just be surprised by joy.