Today is the Feast of the Visitation. I love this painting by Carl Block, an artist I am not familiar with. I love this painting because of the excitement that is shown in Elizabeth welcoming Mary and her unborn Son. Her arms are open wide and it seems as if any moment she will run down the stairs to embrace her cousin and welcome Mary into her home.
This feast, I believe, celebrate hospitality. As an Benedictine Oblate, hospitality is something that we are called to practice. St. Benedict teaches to welcome all as if welcoming Christ. But that is not always easy and as an introvert, it is not always easy for me. I am being challenged to come out of my own insecurities and to show more hospitality toward others.
I also believe that this is a feast that celebrates women. There is a special bond between women that I don't think can exist between men. Social mores allow a certain amount of intimacy and physicality between women that is not usually accepted between men. Women tend to be more open with other women and more accepting, despite what the TV reality shows would like us to believe.
I also think that childbirth creates a unique bond. The fact that women can bring forth life is something that brings all women together, even those who do not have children. It is something innate, a sense of nurturing and nourishing that is part of our nature as women. I found this painting online. I don't know the artist, but again it portrays the great joy Elizabeth expresses. Luke writes on the lips of Elizabeth, "But who am I that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?" We too can ask that same question. Mary comes to us, as a mother, but also as a woman, who shares with us everything that womanhood entails. Let us welcome her as we welcome her Son.