Emmanuel in the Darkness

Day 23

Emmanuel.  God with us.  I'd heard this word many times but it wasn't until two years ago that for some reason the enormity of its meaning struck me.  God with us.  We were awaiting the birth of our newest baby any day and the men who sing at Mass were singing a beautiful meditative song called...wait for it...Emmanuel, Emmanuel.  The Lord placed in my heart a middle name for our baby that had never ever been in consideration before.  A reminder that God indeed was with us.  With our little family.  That no matter the circumstances, the darkness, the silence, the frustration, the sins, or the fears, HE was with us.  What a comfort that is.  It is mind blowing that we have a God that remains with us, that we can partake in and live in.  His name shall be Emmanuel.  This little baby born two millennia ago, he would BE God with us.  

I think of Mary and Joseph taking that road to Bethlehem.  Nine months pregnant.  How there must have been cold and fear and hunger and aching joints and the lack of lumbar support on the back of the donkey.  (Obviously they couldn't afford the better model.)  I wonder if it felt like God was with them?  I wonder if it felt cozy and Christmasy or if it felt dark and a bit uncertain?  If there were temptations along the way?  I think we could be almost certain that there were.  I mean, she was about to birth the Savior of the world, the one who would dispel the darkness and open the gates to heaven.  Certainly the evil one would have been on the move to stop that?  But despite however cold or weary they were, whatever feelings they had, God WAS there, hidden just under the flesh of the Virgin Mary.  He was there and He was just as much God's presence as a few days or hours later when He laid in the manger for all to see and adore.  I wonder if Mary had to remind herself of that over and over along the way.

He's not always visible but He is here with us.  Emmanuel.  A reminder, a promise, a Person.  Sometimes it takes a great act of faith to believe that.  We might not always feel Him but He remains.  We may be asked to go through the cold, the fear, the hunger, and the aches.  It may be excruciating at times or as black as night at times but He is here.  Whether your Advent has been filled with consolations or whether it's been filled with trials and struggles, He is here.  Keep going.  Keep reaching out to Him.  Remember that He is here with you.  Emmanuel.

Today I'll be bringing the boys to Mass and receiving Emmanuel Himself.  God with us.  God in us.  The feelings may be there or they may not.  The kids may behave or they may not.  But the reality of His Presence will remain, giving strength to travelers and allowing them to finish the journey.


  1. This is beautiful, Mary. My mom's parents' names were Manuel and Emmanuella, so I'm biased, but Emmanuel is one of my favorite names. And the concept of God entering his own creation to be with us - incredible.


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