“May you take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.” —John O’Donohue
I recently began the Fourth Week of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. One of my first assignments was to spend some time contemplating Mary meeting Jesus after the Resurrection. The fruits that came from that unique prayer experience took my breath away.
This meeting was not recorded in the Gospels. One of the graces of Ignatian contemplation, however, is that it gives us the tools to consider the “what ifs.” For example, what if this meeting of Mary and Jesus that wasn’t recorded still happened? What if it wasn’t documented on purpose? What if we don’t get to read about it because it was one of the quiet miracles, the kind that seeks no attention? What if it were the type of miracle where the evidence of it lies only in the deep recesses of our hearts?
If I let my imagination go there, it seems obvious that Jesus would visit his mom at some point after his Resurrection. It might even have been the first thing he did. It seems obvious to me that he would do it quietly, out of sight of anyone who would want to document it later. I imagine Jesus would desire this to be a precious moment shared only with his mom. When I picture this scene, my heart recognizes that this was a quiet miracle reserved just for her.
To me, Jesus meeting Mary was like any time God whispers to us instead of shouting. It’s like the appearance of God, not in the wind, the fire, and the great earthquakes (those naturally big spectacles that everyone can see for miles around) but in a tiny whisper entering one set of ears on a quiet night. (1 Kings 19:11–12)
When I first tried to imagine Jesus meeting Mary after the Resurrection, I thought, If I were Mary, I’d be at the tomb. I’d be looking to see if God made something miraculous out of this terrible event. Where was she? Upon further reflection, however, I think I would be home instead. I’d be missing my son, but I’d also be throwing myself into work and trying to keep that bit of faith the angel asked me to have from the first moment I said “Yes.”
As I worked around the house, I would also be struggling to convince myself that it was all real, that my Son was God, and I was chosen for this pain. I’d be wondering if God would send me a sign to make the grief lessen or go away. I’d be looking out my window for the fire. I’d be checking my house frame for the reverberations of the earthquake. I’d be so focused on looking for the big miracle that I’d probably miss my son walking in the door casually as if he were coming over for Sunday dinner. I’d almost miss his gentle touch on my shoulder, a bouquet of flowers picked from the yard in his hand.
I would almost miss the quiet miracle in the loud wake of my grief.
Maybe I imagine it this way because I want to believe wholeheartedly in the quiet miracles, the holes in the Gospel stories that remind me that not everything God does is for public consumption. If I can believe that Jesus met Mary in a quiet moment after his Resurrection, then I can believe that Jesus wants to meet me too, in the most ordinary of moments.
I can leave my ears open for the tiny whisper on a quiet night that says, “I am here.”