The season of the secret


I’ve always been great at keeping secrets. Well, secrets that others tell me, that is. But when they’re my own? When I have news to announce or a story to tell or inner workings of my heart that can’t seem to be contained? I’m an oversharer. A horrible secret-keeper. I’m quick to burst at the seams. I race to tell as many dear friends as I can, my joy multiplying as it spills over.


But this week, I’ve stopped to wonder. It’s been a rather momentous week, one of substantial change and deep reflection and growing dreams of the future. It’s shrouded in mystery, this time of my life, but still I long to share. And it wasn’t until reading these words of Caryll Houselander’s, gathered around my living room with friends, that I started to see things differently:


Like the golden harvest in the darkness of the earth, the Glory of God was shrined in her darkness. Advent is the season of the secret, the secret growth of Christ, of Divine Love growing in silence.


And so I’ve started, however hesitatingly, to respond to this invitation from God to enter the season of the secret. To stop myself before I rush to share, to ponder these things in my heart as Mary did, to ruminate so as to let them take deeper root, so they may bear more fruit in the days or weeks or years to come. I’ve started to wonder why it is that I have often been prone to share so readily, inviting others into precious, even fragile, parts of my heart. It requires gently breaking myself of a long-held habit. It’s certainly no excuse not to be generous, or not to let people I love into my life, or not to proclaim God’s tremendous goodness to me. It is, however, a call to be more like Mary.


The Glory of God, Houselander beautifully writes, was shrined in her darkness. Of course, Mary is Theotokos, the bearer of God. She brings Christ into the world for our salvation. She is the one perfect disciple of His, from whose example we can learn so much. But for nine months, Jesus was hidden in her. She and Joseph kept their precious secret from the world, a world that was about to be irrevocably changed by the impending arrival of the fruit of her womb. As He grew, His presence was harder to miss by those who came into contact with her, I’m sure. But still, He was an utter mystery, even to the one who carried Him.


It’s baffling to me. That God incarnate would hide Himself within a womb, would come to us as a helpless newborn, would disguise Himself as a mere piece of bread. When I think of His profound humility, His willingness to be missed and misunderstood, His patient hiddenness for those nine months and subsequent thirty years of simple life at home, I know He is challenging me to be more like Him. To think before I jump to broadcast my every thought and hope and piece of news, instead bringing it all to Him first. To wait in hopeful expectation that these tiny but marvelous seeds He has planted in my heart and soul and imagination will indeed, in time, take root and burst from the hidden earth and manifest themselves as wondrous masterpieces, impossible to miss, and impossible for me to take an ounce of credit for. To welcome this season as the season of the secret, indeed.


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