“The secrets of the Divine Majesty
are drunk by the ear
of one who like the lily
has a hundred tongues
and is speechless.”
[Rumi, Masnavi III: 21].
Once Mary has conceived, she rushes off to her kinswoman Elizabeth to share in the delight of their amazing news. Before they can do more than exchange greetings, Elizabeth proclaims that her baby has “leaped” in her womb at the sound of Mary’s voice:
“And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.’
This moment feels oddly echoed in Luke 11:27, when an unnamed woman cries out to Jesus, “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!”
Jesus responds with, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!” which may seem like a denigration, but it could be seen as an affirmation that Mary’s faithfulness is something that can be aspired to by anyone at all.
Helminski, noting the similarities between the Magnificat and the Song of Hannah in 1 Samuel 2: 1-10, writes,
“So the story of the fertile blessing of Beloved Mary’s conception of Jesus is held within these stories of barrenness of her mother and [Elizabeth] to whom beautiful fruitfulness was later granted, with resonance to the ancient traditions of such hearts as this earlier Hannah’s yearning for fulfillment and a response arriving from their Sustainer. Without even such a need on Beloved Mary’s behalf, her deep purity and receptivity drew such precious fruitfulness to her. And yet it was not without difficulties, without immense challenges to her heart.”
One of the most painful truths of mature spirituality is that devotion and works of goodness do not ensure a blessed or easy life in the material sense. However, one may discover that as one seeks deeper intimacy with the holy, such Dark Nights of the Soul (as St. John of the Cross describes them) may bring one to the Beloved in an entirely unexpected and new way. As Helminski explores Luke 1: 53, “[God] has filled the hungry with good things,” she writes,
“[Mary’s] practice encourages us to ‘stay hungry’ for God’s Presence. Is not glorification the practice of all the prophets[?] In praising Beloved Mary, or praising the Prophet Muhammad, or other prophets and messengers of God, we are praising the Infinite Source held within them with awe, to which they are an open door; into that Presence of sustaining Love. It is not we who are self-sufficient, but the Divine Reality that is nourishing us moment by moment.”
In this way God can truly be said to be like our Mother, carrying us within the womb of Her love and taking delight when we hear the voices of prophets and leap for joy inside Her.