Three Christmas Meditations, 2019: #3, Contemplative

As a man, I ponder pregnancy with a sense of wonder and incomprehensibility.

As a father of four who had the privilege of witnessing pregnancy and birth at close range, the wonder and incomprehensibility of motherhood are only magnified.

Of course, even us men have experienced pregnancy in one dimension — from the inside. Before conscious memory, we were beneficiaries of a mother’s generosity, giving us life by giving us our first home in her womb. Male or female or other, each of us have felt a mother’s love, and even if we can never fully empathize, we can try to enter imaginatively into a mother’s experience of letting her body become the host for a new life to begin, grow, be given freedom, yet always remain connected by the most primal of all human bonds.

For me this year, personal and political meditations on Christmas lead me to a contemplative exercise: not simply pondering Mary and her beautiful story, but in a sense, becoming Mary … joining her in presenting my body as a locus for the coming of the Christ, the messianic, the new generation of humanity, the presence of God in human embodiment.

Like Mary, we live in troubled times, dark times in so many ways. I don’t need to enumerate, because nearly all of us know and feel it. In these dark times, we receive a visitation, a message …

You, yes, you, can present your body to be a host, a womb, an embodiment of God’s presence.

To do so will complicate your life.

It will expose you to pain, inconvenience, misunderstanding, suffering, grief, loss, self-giving.

It will also infuse your life with wonder, meaning, purpose, intensity, generosity, courage, and deep joy.

You will be stretched.

Your identity will forever be bound with something beyond you.

You will surrender the option of not caring, of being complacent, uninvolved, removed.

You will have skin in the game, as they say … solidarity with all the vulnerable, all the threatened, all the endangered, all the orphaned and afraid.

Your life will be yours, and not yours.

You will discover the ecstatic agony of self-giving.

Your life will no longer simply be about your life.

Your life will be about Life.


My spiritual practice these days includes simply holding the image of pregnant Mary, and seeing myself in her — as her, joining her in bearing the messianic, the hoped-for, the dreamed-of, into the world, this world, this world with all its turbulence, division, and pain.


“Let it be with me according to your will,” I say. “What seems impossible can still be possible … with God,” I say.


Through my body — and yours — with all our particularity, all our strengths and weaknesses, our privileges and problems, what is needed most can come into the world.

I invite you to join me today for a few moments … sitting quietly in your home amidst the joyful chaos of wrapping paper and holiday excitement, bundling up and taking a walk outdoors, wherever … not simply thinking about Mary, but in some way, becoming Mary, joining her in bringing tender, new, transformative life into the world.

God knows how much that new life is needed.

Incarnation happens, whenever we join Mary in making ourselves available to divine, revolutionary love.

Let it be.