I was fairly young when I first happened upon a place in the Bible that interested me. Up until that time it was a book for reverencing or memorizing or listening to, but it had never occurred to me that it contained real information for me to imagine, weigh, feel, smell, taste. Learning to love the Bible is a crawl, not a sprint.
Then this pensive little gem from Luke 2 fell into my sightline: “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” A verse about deep thinking – I loved it.
The baby Jesus has already been born and Mary and Joseph don’t even know yet what being a family feels like. They are no doubt hoping for some quiet time together with their infant son when a clunking but joyful brood of shepherds from the hills come knocking. After some excited wonderment and worship the shepherds shuffle back out to the countryside.
It had always seemed to me that the pensive verse about Mary came after the shepherds had exited but look again. Maybe it was intentional, maybe it was random; maybe it was Luke’s writing style, maybe it was a later addition, but that verse is actually dropped smack dab in the middle of the shepherd’s visit.
In my mind the power of that verse had always been about Mary’s choice to pause, remember, and reflect after everything had quieted down. It is that, of course, but the ordering of the verses tells me something more: Mary was treasuring up and pondering even as the events were happening.
When we consider that she was a primary source for Luke’s writing it makes sense that she might have inserted the words herself as she recalled the moment.
Obviously our senses are important as we embrace the Christmas season: sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touches. But consider how precious Christmas could be if our senses did more than just process information? What if our senses treasured and pondered our moments?
What if our eyes treasured the activities and the faces they saw? What if our ears treasured the voices, the music, the laughter? What if we treasured the aroma of roast turkey and evergreen boughs, or took time to taste the nutmeg in the pie or the cinnamon in the punch? What if we held someone’s hand or what if our hugs lingered a bit longer?
It is always an act of faith and worship when we treasure the beauty and good around us. The Spirit of God speaks new mysteries whenever we give time to pondering.
What if we experienced and loved as fully as possible in real time?
And what if we found quiet space later to ponder, think, smile, be thankful?
What an amazing Christmas gift that would be.