Pregnant Pause by Travis Scholl

MaryAndElizabethAnd Mary remained with her about three months . . . (Luke 1:56)


I cannot experience it firsthand, but I have sensed that there is something full of grace in the genuine friendship between women. There is a sense of empowerment to it, a solidarity, a knowing countenance, a generosity of spirit.


I’m thinking about it because I’m thinking about perhaps the most profound moment of Advent expectation in the Gospel of Luke: the three months that a pregnant Mary spends with her pregnant cousin Elizabeth. We hear a sense of the generosity of their friendship in the exclamation of the elder Elizabeth to Mary, her junior: “And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?” (1:43). Already here, God is “filling the hungry with good things” (1:53), in the perceptive wisdom of one woman to another.


It is enough to make one wonder what all was shared between these two women in Elizabeth’s hill-country home. What holy conversations might have transpired between these two unexpectedly expecting women?


And remember: their fellowship would never have been interrupted by any mansplaining. Elizabeth’s husband was still struck dumb by his temple encounter with the angel Gabriel. It was just the two women in a home that would be otherwise silent.


It is enough to make one wonder. . . .


I cannot experience it firsthand, but I do know the grace and power of holy conversation. Matter of fact, some of my favorite conversations—filled with an almost electric pulse of wisdom and insight—have been the ones I’ve had in classrooms, as either student or teacher, rooms not unlike the Assembly at Camp Arcadia. And some of my favorite moments in those conversations were the pregnant pauses, where the silence is reverberating with deepest wonder and, at RKD at least, syncopated to the sound of waves on sand.


I’m fond of the old notion that Luke got the information he needed to tell the Nativity story by interviewing Mary. But Luke doesn’t tell us a word about those three months Mary spent with Elizabeth. I wonder if Mary kept the secrets of those moments to herself—all those pregnant pauses—the wisdom shared between two women that was for their hearts only.

Advent is a good time for holy conversations, for wisdom shared with deepest wonder. Advent is a time for pregnant pauses. It is how the Spirit of God prepares our hearts once again for the Christ child to enter in.


Rev. Travis Scholl is managing editor of theological publications at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. He is the Dean for Family  Week 2: July 2 – 9, 2016.

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