It's the second day of the New Year, and somehow the colour of things has changed. It's not only that the sun's out, after yesterday's rain and hail and darkness, but there's somehow a liminal, edge-of-things feeling about.
Strange thing, time. God's time - if the term has any meaning when applied to him - is so radically different from our own, that we don't have an inkling what's really going on, why things seem to happen when they do, or what they're likely to lead to in the end. We've just celebrated Christmas, and even the people most closely, intimately, involved in those remarkable events only saw glimpses, as the Holy Spirit shone a light on events, and then the everyday cloud of unknowing came down again. It was, after all the same Mary, the mother of our Lord, who, having prophesied in the words we now know as the Magnificat (Luke 1:46ff) just hadn't a clue, twelve years later, why Jesus might have stayed behind in Jerusalem, or where he might be found (Luke 2:41ff). She, whom all generations call blessed, had no more idea than you or I might have done that Jesus had to be in his Father's house.
If we see at all what God is up to in and through time, it is only as his Holy Spirit shows us. Outside his pool of light all is darkness, echoing and strange, and we have no maps for that place. The only thing to do is pray for God's mercy, that as we need to take each step, the light of his Spirit light will go with us: "a lamp to [our] feet and a light to [our] path," as the psalmist of Ps 119 said, who "[held his] life in [his] hand continually," just as we do, and who prayed, "give me life, O Lord, according to your word..."
Give us life, O Lord, according to your word, this year of 2007... and lighten our darkness, one step at a time, as your Holy Spirit shone his light into the life of your servant Mary, all those years ago - so that even though she did not know where she was going, or what her first-born Son would grow into, yet she saw so clearly where the light shone, and listened...