"In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth."
Anthony B. Robinson
The ancient Celtic words Anam Cara mean "soul friend."
When Mary found herself to be unexpectedly and mysteriously pregnant, she set off on a trip, a trip to the hill country of Judea. Why make a journey at such a time as this? Because at the end of the trip was someone who understood. Someone who got it. Someone who shared her experience.
Elizabeth, her cousin, was also pregnant - also unexpectedly and mysteriously.
A couple years ago I made a somewhat similar journey just about this time of year. I went to visit a couple - friends - who are about my age and were also thinking about things that were on my mind and heart - work and retirement and what's next.
The truth was I was feeling a bit scared - as I imagine Mary was also.
I had come to understand that work meant a lot more things than a paycheck (although those are nice too). Work means relationships, role and purpose. I could see and foresee my work, if not ending, then changing. And a chapter was certainly ending. It can be a tough thing. I went looking for soul friends. People who could listen. People who could get it. And people who wouldn't give me easy, lame advice or treat this as a "problem" to be "fixed." Just listening was enough for in doing that my soul friends helped me to listen to myself.
Mary found a soul friend in her cousin Elizabeth. On my trip I found John and Susan. In our talking and listening, our hanging out, there was an acknowledgment of deep change, and of some sifting of things of the soul. Sitting with soul friends helped open the way for me to live into a new time and chapter of life. We all need soul friends. Who are yours?
When things are changing, when we're scared and hopeful all at once, send us a friend for our soul, O Lord, or perhaps open our eyes to the ones already nearby. Amen.
Join Daily Devotional writer Quinn Caldwell this Sunday, Dec. 16, at 6 p.m. EST on weekly web program Darkwood Brew, in their special Advent series based on Hark!