Treasuring All Things
by David Tremaine on January 04, 2021
As we enter into this new year I have been thinking about a verse in yesterday's gospel story about Jesus, Mary, and Joseph at the temple. In the story the three of them journey to Jerusalem for the Passover feast when Jesus is 12 years old and once finished begin the long journey back. Mary and Joseph, assuming Jesus is in the large crowd of travelers, makes it an entire days journey before realizing that Jesus is not in fact with them. In an anxious panic they return and search for Jesus for three days before they find him in the temple with the elders and teachers. When Mary finally finds him she says, "Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety." In response Jesus says, "Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them.
While this part of the story is certainly remarkable, considering Jesus' remarkable awareness and wisdom at such a young age, the verse that has been sticking with me in this transition from 2020 to 2021 is the very next one, "His mother treasured all these things in her heart." I am struck by Mary's courage in this short verse at the end of this unique and complicated story. Imagine losing track of your child, you know, the one that's supposed to be the savior of the world, and searching for him not for an hour or even a day, but for three whole days. And then when you do find him you don't even fully understand why he's been where he's been or what it means for you or your family. I would expect this to be a traumatic event in Mary's life that she would like to forget, to push away, and just try to move on from. But Mary teaches us something in that challenging and anxious time. Instead of pushing it away, instead of forgetting, she opens her heart, collects all of these things like so many mysterious pieces to a lifelong puzzle, and treasures them there.
As we leave the calendar year 2020, and look ahead to a new year with new possibilities, I wonder what you would like to forget, to push away, to bury? On a global level, this was a year that you would expect us all to want to forget, as if it's pain, frustration, isolation, and anxiety never happened. But before we do that, let us pause, and remember Mary, and how in her moment of anxiety and confusion, she did not choose to keep the good and forget the bad, but treasured up all things in her heart. How can we hold this past year, and all of its events, gently and compassionately in our hearts? How can we let that gentle holding grow something in us that would not be able to bear fruit without both the joyful and the painful, the happy and the sad, the heartache and the hope? Whatever grows in us, whatever transformation happens individually or communally in 2021, will not be in spite of the pain of 2020, but because of it. So let us gather up all these things, every moment of joy and sorrow, and treasure them in our heart with Mary.