After Jill died and after her funeral, I couldn’t help feeling or asking “so what next in my life?”, “so, now what do I do?” I have been involved with Jill for the last four years – more so than in the previous 50. With Jill being so ill, I didn’t think that I had an option of just ignoring her, no matter how difficult our relationship was. So I did what I could, as you know. I can’t say that I did it willingly, as I had other things that I would have preferred to do. And Jill’s habits, like smoking, just upset me so much, because that more than anything, led to her suffering and early death. There were times when I headed off to the hospital to visit that I wondered just how long this would last. I was tired and discouraged, and in a small way, for both Jill and me, was hoping that that particular event would be the last – terrible, I know. Jill would have a crisis; the hospital would bring her back literally from the very brink, and Jill would either return home or the nursing facility. Then a few days, week or a month later, it would all start over again. The beginning of grief, the palpitating heart from anxiety, the rush of energy to meet whatever crisis it was this time. I felt sorry for Jill and wanted so much to shake her and say “you did this to yourself!”, but thankfully, I avoided doing that. Anyway, what do I do now? That is a question which puzzles me.
So that is the back story about my meditations on Mary. I started thinking of Mary’s life, of what she did after Joseph died and Jesus began his public ministry. When our child was grown, how did we find meaning and value in our lives? We volunteered; we worked on our hobbies; we went to Bible studies to learn more about our faith; we prayed for our children; we looked after our homes and husbands. Now we are older and have less energy and drive to do things new. Our children are grown and need less and less of us, which is a good thing and how it is meant to be. Our husbands have their own hobbies and activities. There are days when I don’t eat even one meal with Larry; his schedule is so different than mine. He is so consumed with his activities.
After Joseph died, for a few years perhaps, Mary continued to take care of her home and her Son, Jesus. Then Jesus went away. I imagine when she saw him walking over the hill toward Judea and baptism by John, she must have wondered, “is this it?” “Will I see him again?”. “What am I supposed to do with the rest of my life?” She did see Him, of course, but then I wondered how did she support herself? What did Mary do during the day? After she had swept out her little house, made her breakfast, said her morning prayers, what was left to do? Maybe she visited the village well for her daily water supply. She might have spoken with some of the women who were there. No doubt she tended a little garden that supplied her with fresh veggies. But then the rest of the day was probably empty, unless there was someone in the village who needed her help. Maybe Mary took walks, spent time sitting on a rock just thinking about her life, about all that had happened to her, the places she lived, her life with Joseph – but how much could she do that? Were there dreams Mary had for her life that could not be fulfilled because she had accepted God’s call? In short, Mary’s life became “simple” much as your life and mine have become. Mary still had the energy to do, the desire to do, but nothing to do, because she was alone. Mary’s culture did not offer anything more for widows. Was that God’s desire for Mary’s life, that it was “simple”? Was that Mary’s time to grow even closer to God, now that she had time to do it? Is that what she did? Lots of questions, but no way to get an answer.
What about our lives? Is this our time to be “simple” like Mary? Maybe, though I know I want more – I am sure that you do too. I want my family and my old painting buddies back. I want my old drive and energy back. I want to be able to look forward to things instead of just back. It is like my life now is just waiting. What am I waiting for?
After a time Mary did join Jesus’ disciples; she must have followed Him, helped with taking care of his Apostles, being close to Him again, though it was different. Jesus had become a man with a mission and nothing stood in the way of that. Did the time that Mary was alone, that she was waiting, give her the inner strength to do just that, to be not His mother but His disciple? Each time I think of a question, there are just more questions waiting to be asked.