The first few days after the birth of a child can be a trying time for the mother. The physical toll from the birth itself is compounded by lack of sleep and the needs of others in her care. The circumstances surrounding the birth of each of my three boys were different, but my favorite memories with each of them were those quiet times in the middle of the night when it was just the two of us. The rhythmic squeak of the rocking chair provided a backdrop as I hummed a lullaby and breathed in the sweet new baby smell of his head. In the middle of the hectic stressful post birth period, time stood still. It was as if God knew that I needed that time, in the silence, to ponder and take in the miracle in my arms.
We find ourselves within the octave of Christmas, an eight-day celebration of the Solemnity of Christmas. It is as if time stands still. As the commotion of the world goes on all around us, the Church invites us to quiet down and ponder on the miracle in front of us, God Incarnate, the Babe in the manger. The baby has been born and St. Joseph sleeps after the long journey. The shepherds and Magi are on their way and the crowds will soon press in, trying to see the King. We are invited to open our eyes to the invisible reality “hidden from the wise and the learned” (Mt 11:26), and to see how much God loves each one of us. Mary is inviting us to sit with her and adore the Babe.
Christmas is not over, it’s only just begun. God knows that we live in a fallen, hectic, sometimes crazy world, and that we need a little extra time to take everything in. If your house has been busy with guests, or if you are just exhausted from all the preparations and celebrations, open your ears to the invitation to be still. Maybe you can wake up a little earlier than the rest of the household and let the silence outside give way to the silence within. Those moments before everyone wakes up can be like those precious moments before the shepherds arrive. Accept the invitation to this intimate moment with Mary and the Babe. Ask Mary to place the Baby in your arms, and to be right there with you to make sure He is safe. Ask her to teach you how to hold and ponder all these things in your heart. (Lk 2:19)