A couple weeks back, I volunteered to write and read aloud a meditation for the Stations of the Cross Good Friday service at my church, a service I’ve always loved.  Well, today I received an email requesting the meditation itself, though I’d never gotten a confirmation that I was indeed on the  list and that the Station I’d requested was the one I’d been assigned.  This was in the middle of working on my dissertation final draft, which is due next Friday.   Needless to say I was a bit freaked!  Luckily, it’s supposed to be 200 words maximum, so it’s not like I had to scramble together 200 pages (like I’m doing now for my dissertation!). 

I’d requested Station 13, when Jesus is taken down from the cross and placed in Mary’s arms; I thought, way back a couple of weeks ago, that in the interim I might have some great maternal inspiration with which to write about Mary, mother of God.  Er, not so much.  But as I thought about the station more, I was reminded of one of my favorite sermons of my own mother, a Christmas sermon about Mary offering her baby son to the world to hold, even those who are most intimidated or afraid of such an idea:  “Here, you can hold him.”  So I went from there, trying to figure out how Mary’s actions were fulfilled in that final act of having her son returned once more to her arms.  As a mother now I cannot imagine being asked to give up my child to death, but I can identify with that bittersweetness of letting go, perhaps the ultimate sacrifice one can make.  (Thanks, Mommy, for your inspiration and sacrifices; thanks, too, to my brilliant, eloquent husband for the opening sentence!)


Jesus had lain in Mary’s arms long before:  in a stable, under a star.  Even then Mary knew, though the child lay in her arms at the moment, that He was not hers, that He could not stay forever, either as a baby in her arms or as her son on this earth.  Mary, whose name means “bittersweet,” must have known truly that sadness mixed with joy, that longing for things to remain the same along with the knowledge that they never can.  It must have been a bittersweet moment indeed, when she offered her baby son to the trembling, humble arms of the poor shepherds, or the powerful, richly-clothed ones of the Magi.  In that moment, Mary gave up her son to the world, holding his fragile body out to all people, as if to say, “Here, you can hold him if you like.”  And on this Good Friday, as Jesus’s body is taken down from the cross, the world returns Mary’s son to her arms again, and in this last bittersweet moment Mary bears Christ once more, and for all.