"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." These words from the well-known Christmas story in Luke chapter 2 don't necessarily seem like a pivotal part of the plot. Perhaps though, their presence in the story is a little like a gentle reminder to all of us that there is something about treasuring and pondering that really matters and is worth mentioning.
Imagine you are Luke, the one writing this text, with the stated purpose of "writing an orderly account of the things that have been fulfilled". You take time to do a careful investigation so that your writing covers all the key events and details. You likely would have had conversations with some of the shepherds who saw the angels and interviewed as many of the people as possible who were part of this story. But what was it about Mary's account that made you include this one sentence? What would have she said that made you realize that she "treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart"?
Of course we have no way of knowing these answers. But I wonder if part of it was that Mary had a deepness about her that became obvious when you spent time with her. She was likely aware of and tended to her deeper self. I once heard a teacher explain that we all have two levels in our brains, and most of us live only in the upper level, not the deeper one. In reality, though, that deeper one is the one that actually affects what is growing, not unlike the roots of a tree - we don't see them, but their condition is what determines how the tree looks.
In order for Mary to "treasure up all these things and ponder them in her heart", it seems like she would need to have space to do that. In order to treasure something, it needs a place to be treasured. Physically speaking, most people think of putting treasures in some kind of container, like a treasure chest or something along those lines. Maybe in Mary's case, her treasure chest was that deeper part of herself, the place where things like longings and hopes and dreams live.
Then there's the pondering. One definition of ponder is to "think about something carefully, especially before making a decision or reaching a conclusion". Pondering requires time. It doesn't seem like something that can be rushed. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that the pace of our world today allows very much time for pondering. In order for any of us to ponder, we will likely need to set aside a lot of expectations - expectations from others, expectations from the world, and even self-imposed expectations. Some of these expectations are real; some are imagined. Either way, it is probably going to feel a bit counter-cultural to stop and ponder.
In our go-go-go world, no one really wants to stop. Stopping seems like wasting time. Getting behind. Becoming irrelevant. But what happens if we never stop? What if the more we keep going and avoiding things like treasuring or pondering, the more likely we are to miss what really matters?
I once heard a story about a person who had a house but then when they dug down to the foundation, they discovered that it was all molding and falling apart. Of course none of us would want to find out that the foundation of our inner selves is in shambles. But maybe in order to keep our foundation strong and secure, it requires doing things like treasuring and pondering. Which requires slowing down and paying attention to that deeper part of ourselves.
If that is the case, may we have the courage to pause long enough to tend to and grow our awareness of our deeper selves. May we develop habits like treasuring and pondering. As we do, may the God who created our inmost being and knows the very deepest part of us, draw us closer and closer to Him.
Sometimes music can be a helpful tool in providing space for us to ponder, so above, enjoy this recording of "O Holy Night," performed at the close of both the BCS and WCA Christmas concerts.
Pray with me...
... Father, during this upcoming break from school, would You help all of us to take time to treasure and ponder the things that You have done, are doing and promise to do?
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8
.... Jesus, we pray for fresh revelations of You for all in the ACSD community and beyond
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. John 17:3
... Holy Spirit, please guide ACSD and show us how to be a place that makes space and time for people to slow down and tend to our inner selves
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Eph. 3:16-19
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and pray for Alliance Christian School District! Lord willing, I plan to publish a new blog post weekly throughout the school year. Feel free to subscribe (at the bottom of this page) if you'd like to be notified each time a new blog post has been published. We also have a prayer team that is always open for new pray-ers to join. If you'd like to learn more, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
~ Carrie Warner, ACSD Prayer Team Coordinator
Soli Deo Gloria
To God alone be the glory