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Advent: A Time of Visitation Moments

In the last two years of her life, my mother received notes from various people telling her of their gratitude for her friendship and the impact she had on their lives. I shared snippets of them during the eulogy at her funeral. One is a letter from Rosemarie to my mom in honor of her 87th birthday. Rosemarie had known my mom for more than 55 years. They first met when my parents with my two older brothers moved to the house next to Rosemarie’s family. Rosemarie was sixteen and often visited my mother and
helped her with my brothers.
In her letter, Rosemarie recalled the birth of her first child. Her husband was working when her labor pains began. She immediately called my mom who quickly dropped my brothers off at my grandmother’s and drove Rosemarie to the hospital. Rosemarie wrote that my mother’s strong and caring presence diminished her fear and gave her a steady confidence. My mom stayed with her until the baby was born and Rosemarie’s husband arrived. Rosemarie wrote, “The memory of your contagious illuminating smile will always be with me.” The story of these two women of different generations, supporting each other in a time of both great need and deep joy, is the story of God’s presence among us.
On the Fourth Sunday of Advent we hear the gospel story of the Visitation. Elizabeth is aware of and welcomes into her home the presence of God in Mary. Mary is aware of the goodness of Elizabeth and knows of the messenger of God, whom Elizabeth bears in her womb. The women rejoice with one another in the impossible becoming possible in their lives and express gratitude for that great gift.
During their visit Elizabeth, having resigned herself to living with the disappointment of not having a child, now has to deal with an unexpected blessing. Mary in turn has to resolve living with a blessing that causes more problems than it solves. How would she explain this to Joseph? Elizabeth and Mary’s mutual encouragement enables them to go forward with more confidence and joy despite the struggles they face.
When Elizabeth hears Mary’s greeting, there is a leaping for joy in the darkness of her own womb. In that moment, Elizabeth experienced a bodily knowing that God was present and active in her and Mary’s lives. Through these pregnant prophets God was working out the divine will in the world.
During the Advent season we celebrate the various comings or visits of God into our human community—into the past, the present, and the future. Jesus is the God of Advent. How has God visited you in the very ordinariness of your life? Pay attention to the presence of God in the gathering of friends and family during this holiday season. These may be visitation moments. Don’t miss them.
Sr. Terry is the Executive Director of RENEW International and a Dominican Sister from Blauvelt, NY.

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One Response to “Advent: A Time of Visitation Moments”

  1. Sister EstHer Leis, FSPA says:

    In this holy Season of Advent Sister Terry’s reflection on the Visitation is so in keeping with the Season of Advent: Putting our priorities where they should be, that is on people and our relationships. As Sister Terry states we need to pay attention to the presence of God (Emmanuel with us) so present in each other and among us in the every day happenings of life. Inspiring and a great message for us all Sister Terry. Thanks.

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