There's an image that comes to my mind every time the Feast of the Assumption rolls around -- this is why this day always makes me smile. I won't do it justice in writing, but here goes.
There's a young mother kneading bread dough on a hot day, dark hair framing dark eyes, strong arms streaked with flour. There are a million things to do to keep the household running, and there's never enough money no matter how hard Joseph works, but they make do, they manage --
She is interrupted by a tugging on her skirts, a tapping on her knee. "Mama?" pipes her toddler, in that baby voice that breaks her heart with gladness. "Mama!" Her son raises his hands in that universal tiny child gesture that means I Want To Be Held, Right Now.
And her strong hands bend down, wrap around him, lift him up into the light of the sun; he shrieks and giggles with delight and joy because his mama is here, his mama is with him, and he's flying high above the world...
This is probably the laughter she remembers when she holds his bloodied body thirty years later, laying him down, dead, in the tomb. Her little boy, her baby. A mother's grief.
Fast forward many years.
Now she is old, lying in bed; breathing is hard. White hair framing dark eyes, clouded with age. Trembling arms, spotted with sun. There were a million things she did to keep their spirits burning, but now the men and women who were among the first disciples are gathered around her, praying softly, keeping vigil --
She is interrupted by a tugging at her blankets, a tapping on her knee. And that familiar baby voice.
Her eyes have not seen clearly for some years now, but she turns towards that voice that breaks her heart with gladness. "Mama!" And her son, now fully grown -- her Lord, her God -- is there, stretching his pierced hands towards her, and she Wants To Hold Him, Right Now.
Jesus grins, eyes sparkling mischief, glory, tears. He cocks an eyebrow. "Mama. Up?"
She laughs, and strong hands bend down, wrap around her, lift her up into the light of heaven; they both are wordless with delight because His mama is here, His mama is with Him, flying with him high above the world...
And she still remembers this, the long, long life of joy and suffering entwined, as she prays and walks with each of us always, next to Him. Her little boy, her baby. A mother's joy.