Today, I found out when I started Morning Prayer, is the Feast of the Presentation of Mary.
I didn't have any idea what that meant, not really. It's the sort of feast that feels distant to me, the sort of celebration that makes Catholicism feel ancient and, well, a little hard-to-understand to me. (And I've been Catholic for seven - or is it eight? - years now!)
After reading Jean's post on the Feast of the Presentation of Mary, though, I feel a lot more comfortable with it. For one thing, I have a three-year-old girl in my life. I don't want to give her away or anything (well, most of the time), but I can imagine Mary's parents taking her to the Temple. She would have been old enough to understand that something significant was happening. They probably could have - maybe even did - discuss what was going on. Would she have asked probing questions? Were there tears?
As I've reflected on this, I am better able to think about it in terms of these people from long ago parting with their daughter. Instead of salvation history being fulfilled, great cogs in the wheel of things being plugged along as they were supposed to, it becomes a story with pain and even a little heartbreak in it.
Do go over and read about the Presentation of Mary. Then close your eyes and picture it. Think about the empty house Joachim and Anne went home to - a house that was too quiet. Consider how Mary must have felt, when she realized that she was staying at the Temple. Sure, she was excited...but maybe there was some fear, and no mother to comfort her.
Use this feast day to turn to your Heavenly Mother with some little pain of your own. Let her stroke your temple and lead you to her Son, who will comfort you in the best way possible.