For some unknown reason, God didn’t put eyes in the back of our heads nor put our noggins on swivels. Maybe He just didn’t like the look. Or perhaps it was because He wants us to mostly look ahead, not back.
But a timely look behind us is useful, and even necessary. That’s why rear view mirrors are a pretty amazing invention. Drivers well know their importance. They allow us to see what’s gaining on us, or heaven forbid, what we just ran over in the night. Mirrors help us to adjust our actions and make sensible decisions going forward.
I read once that a driver should check their rear view mirrors about 5-8 seconds! It keeps you up to date with what’s happening behind you.
But that is only half of the battle for safe driving. You see, if you forget what you have seen in the mirror, checking it will have little effect on your driving safety. Using the information that is seen through the mirror is equally as important as checking the mirror. If I forget that there was a car on my left which I can no longer see, it won’t occur to me that now they are in my blind spot. Why check the mirror if you aren’t going to use the information as a driver?
So, too, with my life history. I am not so sure that we need to check the rear view mirror of our life every 5-8 seconds. But I do know that if I don’t use the information I gather when I look back and reflect, then I have missed something crucial.
Today celebrates the feast of Mary, the Mother of God. Or Mary, the pondering one as our reading today describes her. Or, in the language of automotive parts – Mary, as the rear view mirror of God. Mary, the one who bids us to keep all these things, reflecting on them in our hearts. And since this feast day always coincides with the New Year, it is an apt time to look back to see what ‘danger’ might be approaching us, what things are in our blind spot and what we might need to remember on our journey.
The danger I am more aware of comes from that Oxford English Dictionary of the Year – “the Selfie.” It is always too easy to make things about me. The shepherds left their flocks in the field because somehow, they knew this event was bigger than they were, and they were called to worship and give themselves to the newborn baby.
The blind spot – I’ll take from Pope Francis’ message on this World Day of Peace today. In his letter “Fraternity, the Pathway to Peace,” the Pope’s discusses how failure to recognize other people as our sisters and brothers in Christ leads to war, violence, religious intolerance, human trafficking, and economic disparity. Pope Francis also reminds us that, “In God’s family, where all are sons and daughters of the same Father…there are no disposable lives.”
What I need to remember on the journey is the witness of one man, and his wife and family – Nelson Mandela. Here was a man who had the courage to endure so much so that his people could be free. And who had the courage not to give up in the face of adversity. Here was a man who chose not to quit or become bitter in the struggle. Loving his oppressors over the long haul allowed him to transform a country. I like to believe that God is inviting us, here at St. Ann, to transform our community by our witness of faith.
And so on this feast of Mary, the Mother of God, what do you see in your rear view mirror that is a danger to you? What hides in your blind spot, needing to see the light of day and the power of God’s mercy? And what/who do you need to remember going forward. Mary, the pondering one, the mirror of God, invites us, with her, to keep all these things in our hearts, our prayer and our love. If we do so, then we too, will help to raise the Christ in our day and time.