Things don’t always fit the way you want them to.
On Sunday I smiled through the Gospel, “that John was excitable from the very beginning”, and the psalm had me thinking of my own mother who taught me to say the rosary very slowly and methodically. But I just could not wrap my head around the reading from Revelations.
Floating women, baby-eating dragons, and places prepared by God…talk about overwhelming. My brain wanted order and peace. It, at the very least, wanted a dragon with seven heads to have fourteen horns, not ten. But no…
Reading Revelations felt much like a metaphor for life right now. Just one thing after another. Sensory overload. Repeating the words “what the heck?” over and over.
It was the big red baby-eating dragon that got me. Seven heads, seven diadems (crowns for fellow lay people out there), but 10 horns. Now I’m sure there is some biblical, theological, symbolic reasoning for these numbers, but as a non-theologian and a very visual person, I couldn’t get past the non-fitting-ness of this detail. Why only 10 horns, why not 14? Why not 7? Why isn’t this symbolic dream dragon symmetrical??!?!?!?!
In this time of confusion, as we prepare for school to begin and shuffle back into work and public spaces only to hear about variants, breakthrough cases, and the like, I am grasping for any kind of control I can. I’ve located and washed all of my masks, strategically placing them in purses, coats, in my car, and by my keys so I will always have one on hand…again. I am writing all of my activities—from my running schedule to work meetings—in a daily planner and then checking and rechecking my Google calendars to make sure they match. I even brought home chickens so I would have somewhere else to put my nervous energy. And now I’ve fixated on this dragon. There, with its intimidating tail swings and non-symmetrical horns it crashes a third of the stars to the ground and aggressively inches toward this floating woman in labor ready to devour her child. And then it doesn’t.
It just doesn’t.
God provides. God “catches” this baby boy up to his throne and provides safety for the mother. God provides.
So, let me tie this back to Mary. I haven’t ever had a baby. But I have been a teenage girl and a young woman. I haven’t ever had an angel appear to me and tell me that God has chosen me to carry the Savior of the world. But I have felt completely, 100% overwhelmed, unqualified, and as if my life was out of my own control. There are things that are within my control: my actions, reactions, and perspectives. And there are things that aren’t: global pandemics, racism, etc. But I have the ability to seek refuge in what God provides, like the woman in Revelations. I have the ability to trust and accept God’s will as Mary did. God will provide opportunities for me to use my energy to fight racism. God will provide opportunities to make someone’s life a little more just and equitable during the pandemic. Even if it doesn’t look the way I want it to.
Lena Chapin is the development director for Edwins Leadership and Restaurant Institute in Cleveland, Ohio. After graduating from John Carroll University, she spent a year in Immokalee, Florida with the Humility of Mary Volunteer Service. Lena worked for the Ignatian Solidarity Network from 2016-2022.