The Mary to My Elizabeth

It was our last ‘Dare Greatly’ – a program Katie and I had created for young women with the hopes that they would grow in their faith, as well as in relationship with each other as sisters in Christ. Because Lord knows, we need people to walk this journey with us.

We had decided to end our night with affirmations – a sheet of paper with each person’s name on it was passed around as each young woman wrote thoughtful notes, affirming each other’s dignity. I’ve done this activity before and it’s not always fruitful. Sometimes simple adjectives, which my English teachers would cringe at (like ‘nice’), get strewn across the paper. But these girls were exceptional, writing small, thoughtful paragraphs to each other, edifying and noticing that which the world so often does not.

When mine came back to me, I was overwhelmed. In that moment, I realized that on some small scale, we’d accomplished our goal. Then my eyes caught the words: “Thank you for being the Mary to my Elizabeth,” in a note from ‘my Katie’. I started crying, then laughing because I was surrounded by high school girls and didn’t want them to be too alarmed. I looked up at Katie, who was also was blinking back tears and smiling at me knowingly. I’d written the same thing to her.

Then I jumped up and pulled out all the ingredients to make s’mores, preventing things from getting too weepy, as a dozen high school girls gathered around us laughing and sharing hugs.

* * *

On May 31st, we celebrated the Feast of the Visitation – the moment when Mary, having given her ‘yes’ to God’s request to bear His Son, goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth who is also with child (Luke 1:39-56). I love this story for so many reasons, but one thing that always strikes me is the relationship between Mary and Elizabeth.

Mary goes to Elizabeth, in haste, to be with her in her time of need. Not only that, Mary brings Jesus with her, sharing her joy and love of God with Elizabeth. And Elizabeth recognizes this holy presence, for her baby leaps for joy in her womb.

Katie is my Mary. Always calling me higher by her own virtue, reminding me to look for God in the ordinary – sometimes hidden – moments of life, filling my world with light and laughter and love and joy. It took me 25 years to find a friend who understands my soul the way Katie does. It took both of us, like Mary, saying ‘yes’ to God, even when we could not possibly know the triumphs and sorrows which lay before us.

Everyone ought to have a friendship like Mary and Elizabeth’s – someone who brings Christ to you and makes your heart leap with joy and calls you forward in the process of becoming the person God created you to be. Because saying ‘yes’ to God can be daunting, confusing, lonesome even. I can only imagine what Mary must have felt. But when we have someone to walk that journey with us, to embrace us with open arms, share our experience, and edify our dignity, we are strengthened in our ability to ‘magnify the Lord’ and to ‘rejoice in God our Savior.’

Thank you God for friendships. May we have the courage to say ‘yes’ to you as Mary does, the wisdom to go to those in their time of need, and the grace to magnify the Lord with our very lives. May we, like Elizabeth, receive people with open arms and always recognize your presence.

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