But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19

I noticed her as I passed through the small chapel on my way back to my room where I would pump milk for the two babies I’d left at home. She was standing at the front of the chapel space cradling a child and as our eyes met I felt a moment of recognition and thought, “Now there’s someone I can relate to.”

This was during the first of nine mini-retreats I would be attending for a program on contemplative silence. I was disappointed to see that my fellow participants were older than me by a good twenty to thirty years. As a young mother I felt woefully out of place, painfully aware of my fear that I didn’t fit in, and afraid of the hunch that this was the wrong time in my life to embrace contemplative spirituality—to pursue a call to prayer and silence that stood in such stark contrast to the daily realities of my life.

It was with relief that I noticed the statue of Mary. There she stood, a young woman holding her young child smack-dab in the middle of that holy space and my eyes were suddenly opened to seeing Mary as a mother like me, Mary as a woman who pondered, who prayed in the midst of an everyday, ordinary life.

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