This might be my favorite painting in the world. All over the internet this time of year, it remains fresh to me. In the past I've liked it because, frankly, Mary looks a lot like I did as a very young woman, and her puzzled expression confirms the likeness.
This year, I've noticed other things. The messy bed. The worn surroundings.
The uncompromising light.
Is that what we pray for, when we are so bruised and fragile that the flames of the advent candles threaten to engulf us in sorrow?
A birth that can lead only to Good Friday, because it is only there that we can be sure that God knows us?