In today’s Gospel, Luke 1: 39-56, we encounter two women very much attuned to what is happening within their bodies and within the core of their beings. Both are very familiar with God at work in the stillness of their lives. Elizabeth, following the conception of John the Baptist, withdraws for five months, saying, “The Lord has done this for me, now that it has pleased him to take away the humiliation I suffered in public” (barrenness was considered an humiliation and, also, a punishment for women in Elizabeth’s time and culture). Like her cousin Elizabeth, Mary has withdrawn into the silence of her heart awed by the angel’s announcement and that she is to become the Mother of God. “’You see before you the Lord’s servant,” she says to the angel, “let it happen to me as you have said.’ And the angel left her” alone in her solitude. She leaves Galilee immediately after the Annunciation to go to Judah to visit Elizabeth, telling no one, according to the Gospel, of what occurred in Galilee. In silence, she ponders what the Lord has done to her.
We learn from Mary and Elizabeth the importance of solitude, of pondering and reflecting on what is happening in our lives as a means to recognize the ways of God.