Almost three years ago, on the first truly warm day in May in northern West Virginia, my fourth baby was born, propelling our family into a tumultuous two years of surgeries, testing, and hospital stays to address her medical issues.
Up until that point, medical avoidance was a hallmark of my life. I simply did not have the guts to weather a simple blood draw, much less the procession of interventions I was thrust into witnessing. I thought I might fold under the pressure, doubting that I could fill the shoes I was being asked to step into.
At many points, including the days leading up to my daughter’s birth, Mary’s words upon the Annunciation and words found today in Hebrews have been an integral part of my prayer life.
“I come to do your will.”
I came to understand those words in the years of bearing witness to my daughter’s medical complexities: in being asked to step up to handle an issue that appeared before me like the tallest of mountains; in feeling entirely inadequate to stay engaged for the long haul; in committing, even when my entire being alerted me to the fear of loss that comes with an attachment full of risk.
Imagine how Mary must have felt, committing to an act that would make her a social outcast, raising a son whose future was certain to be full of tumult and would bring on a mother’s deepest sorrow, yet heal the world.
In the face of uncertainty, whether it be from unjust systems or medical ordeals, Mary is a more than worthy model. Even in the moments when our very being is shouting out that we must rest, hide, or quit, we are called to be like Mary….to rise up, to commit to the long work of justice and healing, even in the face of our own insecurities, fears, and fatigue.
Rise up, to commit to the long work of justice and healing #RiseUpLent
- Is there an aspect of working for justice that draws feelings of inadequacy or fear for you?
- How can you take a first step toward committing and acting in spite of those personal challenges?
- How can you be more present to hear the stories of our brothers and sisters, even when those stories are brimming with tragedy and pain inflicted by systems in which we are unwittingly complicit?
Kelly Swan has served as communications director for the Ignatian Solidarity Network since 2016. She grew up in West Virginia and is a graduate of Wheeling Jesuit University. Kelly has worked in parish social ministry, child and family advocacy, community education and organizing, and publishing. She lives in the Cleveland, Ohio area with her children.