Remona Aly
Wednesday 06 December 2017 BBC Radio 2

The Mary Moment

My Mary Moment

I went to see my 3 year old twin nieces’ Nativity play last week and it almost destroyed me. My ovaries reached top decibel level and despite telling myself to hold it together, I blubbed like a woman unhinged, as scores of little humans sang out of tune and looked utterly perplexed. It was unbearably cute.

It was also a far cry from the Christmas plays I grew up being a sheep in, as this cast was bursting with fireflies, mice and ants – leaving Mary and Joseph looking like bit parts.

I’ve often thought if we had a Muslim version of the nativity play, it would basically be a one woman show. In the Quran, Mary or Maryam, is entirely alone when she gives birth, there’s no Joseph, no kings, and definitely no sheep.

Mary is a rebel, a single mum, and according to some Muslim scholars, she may even have been a prophet. I mean, what a woman.

I’ve always had the biggest admiration for Mary, but I feel most connected to her in her moment of weakness. While in the pangs of labour she realises the burden of her calling and cries ‘’I wish I had been dead and forgotten long before all this!’

Not to equate myself to the mother of the Messiah, but I totally get that feeling – when I’m knocked for six by the trivial and massive trials of life – from dreaded work deadlines to heartbreaking tragedies, I literally feel like curling up into a ball.

But so often, your greatest strength is waiting in line right behind your greatest weakness.

I keep in mind the words of the medieval Muslim scholar and poet, Rumi, who writes in a poem about a dialogue with God:

“I said: what about my eyes? God said: Keep them on the road.
I said: What about my passion? He said: Keep it burning.
I said: What about my heart? He said: Tell me what you hold inside it?
I said: Pain and sorrow.
He said: Stay with it. The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

Every weak moment that evolves into strength is my Mary moment. She teaches me that when I’m at a dead end, there will always be an opening, and it may just point towards my greatest light.

(Featured image from emel magazine, front cover, Issue 27)