the sacred

When Luke said “but Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” {Luke 2:19}, did you ever wonder what that meant?

I kind of glossed over that verse for a very long time, noticing it and thinking oh, what a beautiful way to say that, but not really thinking about what it was saying.

Until I became a mom.

And then… well there are just things that are just not easily expressed. Partially because we’re sleep deprived and the formation of words is just sometimes not possible. But also partially because there truly isn’t a way to verbally express just what that sweet-smelling, smooth-skinned baby that was formed from virtually nothing-but-everything and yet now somehow holds the entirety of your heart right in his eyes (how’s that for a run-on?)… what he does to you inside. There also just isn’t a way to express how exhausted you are. Or how proud. Or how much you love the person you made that baby with.

And so I thought, Mary pondered it all in her heart because of that, because how on earth can you express that.

I realize I am totally putting words in Mary’s mouth. But that is the meaning that verse immediately took for me.

But there’s something else, I think.

There’s the sacred.

We share so much of ourselves these days, whether it is our true selves or just the scrubbed and combed and decorated self that we are okay with others seeing. But we put it all out there. Is it just me, or is there this temperature in the current-day that almost implies that if it’s not published it’s not real, or important. So much of the world shares what they ate for breakfast, what their kid said, what their husband did, exactly what they’re thinking, it has almost become the norm, the expected, for everyone. Or maybe it really is just me. I can admit that.

I can admit to feeling that pressure, whether I succumb to it or not.

There is a Chinese proverb that goes like this:

“a woman has three hearts… one she shares with the world… one she shares family…  and one she shares only with herself.”

That proverb can be taken two different ways, as far as I’m concerned. Either we are most truly ourselves with just ourselves (and maybe a spouse or select few? I don’t think it necessarily has to be just you), sort of ourselves with our family or friends-like-family, and then we do that cover-up, make-up, try to look as good as we can in front of the world. And I am sure that most of us do that to varying degrees.

Or maybe it means something else? Maybe it has to do with the sacred, too? We were made to share things with each other – parts of our heart – stories and art that tell a story of who we are and what we’ve been through, I am sure of it. But maybe there are some things that, when treated as the truly sacred things that they are, don’t need to be shared. At least not with the world. Those things we share only with ourselves, or the few in our closest circle.

I am not, by any means, criticizing the content or how much other people share. Only you can decide the size of those three hearts. And maybe it changes based on the season of life you are in? And whatever you decide is just right for you. I just hope that you are not dictating the size of those hearts based on what has become the social norm for this time, or any expectations – real or false – you might feel from others. Base it on you. Just you.

So back to Mary? She pondered all those things in her heart. I can wonder all day what Luke really meant by that. I am not a Biblical scholar, or any type of scholar whatsoever.

But gosh, does that verse mean so much more to me now than it ever has.

Whether it is because of lack of words or because I just truly want to treasure the sacredness of something, just me and my guy, I am pondering so much in my heart these days.


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