I was thinking about the Visitation the other morning as I meditated on this mystery of the rosary. I remembered my occasional visits with my Aunt Rose during the summer months as my husband and I traveled to New Hampshire from our home. Those were wonderful times full of laughter and the sharing of memories with lots of hugs and smiles. Always before we left to continue our journey Aunt Rose would offer me a gift which had some connection with our shared past. Once it was my grandfather’s smoking stand, another time it was the wooden lawn chair that “grandpa” would sit in during the summer evenings greeting neighbors as they walked past his front sidewalk, often it would be photographs of those who had passed before us. I still have those precious items for they are a reminder of those I knew and loved so long ago. As my husband and I left Aunt Rose’s home to continue our journey, there were always little packets of food passed to us to munch on as we drove and lots of hugs and tears as we promised to return soon. The most important of those gifts shared with me during our visits were the evenings Aunt Rose and I spent reminiscing about the times and people we both loved and missed so deeply.
As I continued to think about Mary’s visit with Elizabeth during those last three months of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, I thought Elizabeth would want to share some small item as a memento of the times she and Mary had spent together just as Aunt Rose had done with me.
What would Elizabeth choose as a gift to Mary? Would it be a piece of Elizabeth’s favorite jewelry, a pressed flower or a small stone from the garden where they would sit together during the heat of the day? It would be something personal, something that could be easily carried in a pocket, perhaps kept close to Mary’s heart and looked at over and over again in the years to come. It might be a handwritten letter to thank Mary for her sacrifice in visiting with Elizabeth and a reminder of the times they had shared.
In my own life it is the words of love which I treasure above all the material things. I still keep the greeting cards Aunt Rose sent to me even though her message was always short and sweet – she always signed the cards “Love, Aunt Rose”. In those three simple words are a lifetime of memories and all the love my heart can hold.
I can never duplicate Elizabeth’s words or truly imagine the times Mary and Elizabeth had shared. Still I wrote a letter that Elizabeth might have written so long ago. I know that Mary would have treasured Elizabeth’s letter and carried it with her always.
My dearest Mary,
Thank you so much for coming such a long way to visit with me. I know the travel was difficult even though you didn’t say a word about how hard it was for you. I have made the trip to Nazareth several times and as I remember the journey, it was never easy – so many hills to climb, so many dusty roads, so many nights spent sleeping outdoors on the hard ground.
Having you here with me during the last three months of my confinement before John’s birth was so comforting to me. Your help with the simple tasks of dressing and caring for my household and my husband Zechariah provided such help to me. I enjoyed all of our quiet conversations, our walks and naps in my garden during the heat of the day, the loving memories we shared of your parents and your childhood.
The little prayers we would say for the child growing in my womb gave me such hope. Seeing your smile and hearing your sweet voice was a great blessing for me. I am so grateful to our loving and faithful Lord for sending you to me.
Having you here beside me, holding my hand, as my little one was fighting his way to be born gave me peace. The songs you sang to me, the prayers you said for me as I was in labor relieved my pain.
I am not looking forward to your leaving – I know our final hugs will be watered by my many tears. I would keep you here forever, but I know that God has plans for your life and the life of your unborn child. I love you more than my simple words can reveal. I miss you already and yet you are still here with me.
I will pray each and every moment for your safe travel. May God bless you on your journey. May He protect you and the child who is growing in your womb and bring you safely home to your beloved Joseph.
If it is possible, let me know that you have arrived home safely. Perhaps Joseph knows someone who will be traveling to Jerusalem for a festival or for work who can carry your message. Zechariah and I will provide the traveler with a warm welcome and a safe place to stay.
Shalom, my dear cousin. You carry all my love with you.