Nothing goes together quite like military life and moving. The longest my husband and I have ever lived anywhere is one year. My stuff hasn’t been in one place for more than a year since 2011. The transient life can really get under my skin sometimes. There are times that I really just want one neighborhood, one set of friends, one parish, one job, one doctor, one grocery store… the list goes on.
Focus on the struggles, and it can be unbearable. Last Advent and Christmas Season, however, I was inspired by another wife who found herself moving a lot: Mama Mary. Her journey on the road to Bethlehem and her flight to Egypt.
After all my moves, I can’t just skim over these passages anymore – The Journey to Bethlehem and The Flight to Egypt hold a special place in my heart now. They inspire me with their witness of trust and totally abandonment to God’s will – something that I pray for in my own vocation.
The Road to Bethlehem
Oh man, pregnancy. What a beautiful time – and oh goodness but I was nauseous, sick, sore, the list goes on. We moved down to Charleston and I was pregnant, navigating all the exhaustion and food aversions of first trimester. It’s so uncomfortable traveling long distances that pregnant. There was no position I could sit in and be comfortable, and I had motion sickness something fierce.
I can’t help but to be struck by our Mama Mary traveling in third trimester (which was my worst trimester) to Bethlehem. It’s overwhelming to think about all the facets of this journey. This journey for them was hard. Physically exhausting. Emotionally exhausting.
I think about how hard these journeys must have been on Mary’s body. How Mary had to deliver her child away from her parents, away from her mom, St. Anne. Yes, she had St. Joseph, but I know if I had to pick between my husband and my mama to be there for labor and delivery, I’d pick my mama. Every day of the week.
How could she endure such a hard journey at such a critical time?
The Flight to Egypt
For our next move, we had baby in tow. Mamas, I don’t know how y’all move with children. It’s stressful, hectic, and overwhelming. You end up packing up just the thing your baby decides she needs for the trip. Everything is lost, all over the place, naps are messed up, overnight sleep is messed up, eating patterns are messed up, everything is messed up. We moved up to Norfolk with a baby screaming the whole way there.
Moving with a baby, I connect it with the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt. How there was no idea of how things would be taken care of. When would they be settled? When would they come home? Where was home?
How do you make such a dramatic move with a newborn?
The answer to the questions is so simple and clear, but so hard to live out: radical trust.
If we have anything we can learn from the Holy Family, it is total abandonment to God’s call. Both times they gave everything to God. Just look at St. Joseph’s response to the call to go to Egypt in Matthew 2:13-15. They just went. They didn’t say anything. They didn’t complain like I always do about having to pack things and leave all my favorite places and people behind.
Finally, as I still encounter moving stickers, unpacked boxes, everything in all its newness, I contemplate the Holy Family in Egypt. The bible doesn’t say a whole lot about that time. But they would’ve been foreigners in a strange place. They would’ve started a new life. Worked, raised Jesus, form community.
Although the bible never explicitly states it, I have to believe that they approached it with peace, with love, with trust.
As my husband starts his new job, and I work to raise my baby girl, and we all work to find our place in this community, meditating on the Holy Family in Egypt is a great solace.
God has called my family and me to this life. He has called all of our families to a myriad of crazy situations. For all of us, there are moments that are hectic, stressful, chaotic, difficult, messy.