Our first full day in Jerusalem brought us to the outskirts of the city where the Church of the Visitation is located. A beautiful courtyard welcomes to pilgrims. Tiles pave the walls of the courtyard, each bearing the text of The Magnificat im a different language. I thought this was the main part of the visit: seeing the place where Mary spoke the words "My soul rejoices in my God, my spirit proclaims the greatness of the Lord" comemorated with plaques donated by various countries. What a lovely way to highlight our communion in faith, a communion that knows no geographical, political or linguistic barriers.
To my suprprise we were led up a staircase to a small church. There the walls were covered in frescos depicting the visitation and events surrounding it. Having arrived in Jerusalem from the Galilee, I thought "gee, and she did that without an air conditioned coach." The realization struck that Mary walked, maybe took a donkey, from the serenity of Nazareth and the Galilee into the mountainous region around Jerusalem. I can't imagine how many days that took, and how many discomforts she had to deal with. So, why would she go to this length? I remembered a comment from a non Christian acquaintance who studied interreligious dialgoue at a Catholic univeristy, "Of course, she had to check it out and confirm that it was really happening." At the same time I recalled an icon of the visitation done by an artist I met in Vancouver. She staunchly refused to call her piece "the visitation." Instead she calls it "The Recognition" because she is convinced that what happened in this place outside modern day Jerusalem, was the meeting of two women of deep faith. What happened when they finally set eyes on each other was the moment of recognition "we are in this together" "we have said yes to our God." Today Visitations or Recognitions happen every time a young woman finds another woman with whom she can share her friendship and her faith.
This little, quiet corner of the world paved with the words of the Magnificat shows us - men and women - what great things God can do when we recognize each other and visit each other. What great things can happen when women of faith support each other in their "yes."
Alicia Ambrosio is an English producer for Salt + Light. Follow her on Twitter