“But she (Mary) was much perplexed by his (the angel’s) words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.” Luke 1:29 (NRSV)
As 2017 was yielding to 2018, a friend, Peter Englert, posted a gentle challenge on his Facebook page: what will be your word for the new year? I hadn’t heard of any such custom—and I tend to avoid such things—but his challenge worked on me for a day and more. I pondered what word I might identify. I pondered whether I should even name one, lest it fall aside like so many new year’s resolutions.
In my pondering about this, I realized that my word should be ponder (and a form thereof, pondering). I looked up ponder in one dictionary and found this:
“to think about (something) carefully, especially before making a decision or reaching a conclusion. Synonyms: think about, contemplate, consider, review, reflect on, mull over, meditate on, muse on, deliberate about, cogitate on, dwell on, brood on, ruminate on, chew over, puzzle over, turn over in one’s mind.”
Ponderous has a different tone; it suggests slowness and heaviness, like a 300+ pound NFL lineman who plugs a hole in the line with his massive frame, but without much agility. That is not what I mean. I am thinking more of Mary’s wonderful response of pondering God’s words and works to find deeper meanings. That provoked me to look at other references, like these:
“We ponder your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of your temple.” (Psalm 48:9)
“All who heard them pondered them and said, ‘What then will this child become?’ For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.” (Luke 1:66)
“But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)
On the front page of my journal for 2018 I have written: Ponder. I want to ponder things great and small, things lofty and mundane, things ordinary and extraordinary. I want to ponder the fullness of life that God has granted me, the abounding blessings that have marked my journey, beyond anything I could ever earn or merit, and the continuing opportunities to grow, learn, serve, and minister. I want to ponder the mysteries and glories of the Lord.
Thanks to my friend Peter for provoking me to ponder much in 2018—and beyond.