“Let it be with me…” Luke 1:38

These are the words Mary says when she hears the news that she will bear and give birth to Jesus. How little she would know what the import of these words would hold. What they would truly mean in her life. Towards what end they would tend. “Let it be with me” cost her everything as she stood at the foot of the cross, her son splayed out, dying from asphyxiation, the buzzards circling overhead, the flies already thick in his wounds.

She first says these words as a young adolescent girl, the hopes and dreams and wishes of life spread out before her like the dawning of a new day. So many plans, so many things to prepare for, to anticipate. How could she have known in the spring of her youth, as the Magnificat welled up in her heart, that such an end as this was coming? Would she have still said these words had she known? Would we?

We imagine, when we say, “Let it be with me” that things will work out as they should. That bills will be met, verdicts overturned, marriages salvaged, diagnoses returned favorable. We cannot imagine, in the spring of such words, there actually being a winter’s discontent.

And yet, there is Mary, older, slower, more frail and feeble now, standing at the cross, watching as her son breathes his last, the crows already hopping on the ground, anxious to get at the flesh. Is this where it all leads? Is this what it was all about?

I see her standing there as the darkness descends, her mind’s eye traveling back all that way, back over the dusty years, to that girlish exuberance, the gleeful, hopeful, “Let it be with me…!”

Was she a fool, in her youth, to have trusted so much? Are we? For Mary, not knowing what would come, this was a promise broken, a life shattered, barrenness returned. In silence, in grief, in guttural agony she recalls those words, echoing as a cruel whisper, “Let it be with me”.

The darkness of the Friday we call “Good” makes a mockery of all we hold onto: the hopes, the plans, the lit candles, the burning incense, the late night hospital vigils, the desperate pleas, the summer love.

For me, Christianity is not about saying these words when they produce a song in our hearts, but holding onto them when they open a vein in our souls.

May I have the courage to still speak them when all is lost in darkness and death. May I still have the strength, when sorrows and sea billows roll, to utter, even in a hoarse whisper, “Let it still be with me…”.