Irene McGowan writes 'Gazing'

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Head slightly inclined, eyes downcast, she was gazing.
Now and then a smile flickered on her lips and lit her face
as she gazed at her baby in his pram.
Hers was an ordinary face, plain even; dark brows, dark lashes,
yet beautiful in a way, transfigured almost, by love.

I often see young women with their babies on the bus,
eyes downcast, gazing at their mobile phones,
giving their little ones a now-and-then glance.
She was different: she somehow made me think of Mary,
head bowed, eyes downcast in humble obedience.

Is that how she gazed at Jesus, cradled in her arms
eyes full of love and the joy of new motherhood?
She nurtured him with Joseph
and they watched him grow strong and full of grace and wise,
but they must have stared in disbelief that day in the Temple —
when they found him at last-"About his father's business" indeed! -
Who did he think he was?

But she stored it all away in her heart.
Then when he started his mission,
proclaiming the Kingdom of God was at hand,
and full of compassion, healed the sick, the blind, the lame,
fed the hungry, blessed the children and welcomed all who came,-
rich and poor, outcasts and sinners, the lost and the least,
did she watch in amazement,-touched with quiet pride?

But did it turn to anxiety when she saw
how he outraged the religious elite,
and to alarm at the way things progressed?
And did she remember what Simeon had said?

Then came that day when he hung on the cross
and she gazed through tears of anguish for the son she loved.
Were they mixed with tears of anger: "Why him? What has he done?"
But then, O joy! There he was, on the third day, alive!
Did understanding begin to dawn
on that Sabbath morning?
Did she gaze in awe and wonder
at how God's mission was fulfilled?

Or did that come later,
as her pain at his suffering grew less
and she recalled the precious memories stored away:
words of prophets, words of angels,
things he'd done and said?
And did she begin to understand that's how it had to be,
for the son she loved was God's only Son,
given for love of all humanity.
and in love and adoration did she humbly bow her head?

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