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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Susan Hanson

Sunday, December 26

But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.
—Luke 2:19

"Words! Words! I'm so sick of words!" Eliza Doolittle sings in the musical My Fair Lady. "Show me! Show me! Don't talk of love lasting through time. / Make me no undying vow. Show me now!" Tired of just hearing about Freddy's love for her, Eliza longs to experience that love, to know that love in a physical, tangible way.

The mystics have a similar problem with words. "[H]e can tell nothing save by implication," Evelyn Underhill writes in Mysticism. "Those who have seen are quite convinced: those who have not seen, can never be told. There is no certitude to equal the mystic’s certitude: no impotence more complete than that which falls on those who try to communicate it."

Having heard the shepherds's pronouncement that the child they had come to see was the Messiah, the Savior, Mary was no doubt overwhelmed. How could it be that she, a poor young woman, was also the bearer of God incarnate? There was, of course, no logical explanation. But then, there didn't have to be.

In her silence, during which she “pondered” all that had been told to her, Mary reminds us that our experience of Emmanuel, of “God With Us,” is an experience for which there are no words. What matters at such a time is not that we find a way to communicate what has occurred, but that we let this divine presence in our lives so shape our wills that love becomes our natural response both to God and to the world that God has made.

O God, when the words fail to come, let my heart reach out to you in love, certain that you will answer in a language my soul will know.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2004.