Easter Thoughts at Christmas
Maureen Ursenbach Beecher
Reprinted Vol. 25, No. 1 (Fall 2001)
“Did you think mother was never coming?” I murmured to my weeks-old Daniel, whose cries had been drowned out by my vacuum cleaning in the next room. “Mommy is never far away,” I promised. “You must learn not to be so afraid. She’ll always com.”
And even as I said it, I knew it was a lie. Mother will be there most of the time, I suppose, while Daniel is young. But not always. Sometimes there will be Danny’s father. Sometimes there will be a sitter. Sometimes, though I couldn’t imagine the circumstances, there may be a stranger. Or no one.
“No, never!” my mind objected. Never no one. Childhood’s stories and songs came flooding back, full of assurances that someone is always there, even “when mother perhaps will have gone away.” Teach faith, then, to my babe, and trust. Trust that God will always hear his prayers and soothe his cries.
And as I thought that, I knew that it, too, was a lie. For though God’s immortality could fill gaps where a mother’s mortality would leave a space, He would not always come running when the vacuum cleaner’s noise left His child afraid.
Bethlehem’s child was no exception. In her ponderings, Mary must have wondered at the special privilege awaiting her baby boy. Angels, it was said, would attend him. God would surely be always nearby, his whisperings teaching, directing, assuring the mortal Son with immortal understanding. She must have felt a confidence most mothers lack as she and her protector Joseph prepared for the long journey out of danger. The Father would surely guard him, she must have thought, here in Bethlehem, or in heathen Egypt or, please God, back home in Galilee. This was His Son, heir to the Father’s greatness and power. God would never leave his child alone in this dark and danger-filled world.
But Bethlehem’s faith was Golgotha’s lie, and Mary learned it. That awesome moment when she would see her son, raised on a cross far from her power to comfort, cry to his Father: “Why hast thou forsaken me?” And receive no answer. But into the vacancy around his essential solitude would come strength of his own, power generated by his now proven Godhood, to perform by himself that which from the beginning was to be exacted of him. The redemption of man, by man necessitated, by Man accomplished.
And Mary witnessed it. Perhaps I, too, will be forced to see a time, Daniel, when you must rise beyond my assurances, beyond my ability to cradle your head in the bend of my neck. When the God I have taught you to love and to trust will leave you, saying, “This you must do yourself, my son.”
So I will teach you, Daniel. Trust me, but learn that I may be far away when you call. Trust God, but know that He may not answer. Trust yourself, and learn that in those moments when no one answers you are learning sonship.
For eternity will demand that of all of us: that we prove by the solitude of Calvary our right to the joys of Bethlehem.