"We should be speaking of him and experiencing him as already here, already growing within us.... A prenatal child grows under his mother's heart. Her body nurtures him; she feels his growth and movements. When he is born, then she can hand him to others to hold. Then she can share him. Advent, then, is about being pregnant with Jesus...."In response to these thoughts, a friend sent me a beautiful, perfectly fitting poem she wrote in 2008 "at Adoration while I was meditating on Our Lady of Guadalupe. It was one of those moments when you feel flooded and simply must write down what comes into your head." I asked Janice for permission to share her poem here, and she graciously said yes!
Before sharing the poem, however, I want to tell you a tiny bit about the poet. Janice Russoniello is a member of St. John Neumann Parish in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She and her husband are the parents of nine children, six girls and three boys, ages eight to twenty-five. On December 16 of the year in which the poem was written, their twenty-year-old daughter Liz died after a cluster of arteriovenous malformations in her brain ruptured. The poem is only one of "an abundance of consolations" that Janice received in the months prior to her daughter's departure. "I believe," she told me, "God gave me so much that year in preparation for what was to come."
For example, Janice was also inspired in 2008 to start the Little Society of St. Rita, "a prayer group for girls in middle school and high school (although everyone is welcome!) under the patronage of St. Rita of Cascia. I wasn't sure anyone would be interested in this group, but we have four families that attend each month, with eleven girls (including my three youngest daughters), four moms, one grandma, and a friend of mine who helps out."
It is no surprise to me that the following poem would come from the heart of this mother of great, faith-filled joy and sorrow.
by Janice Russoniello
Salvation rested beneath her ribs
Heard the beating of her heart
Moved within her
Drew life from her life
Found comfort in her voice
Understood her sweet ponderings
She carried Salvation within her
Perfect Love resting in perfect love
Within His Own creation
Salvation rested within her arms
Pressed His head against her heart
Was nourished at her breast
Experienced her gentle caress
Gazed with wide-eyed wonder
Into the eyes of His masterpiece
She carried Salvation on her hip
Perfect Love cradled by perfect love
Within the embrace of His Own creation
Salvation rested within her eyes
Sought her face among the many
Longed for her to be near
Found strength in her surrender
And solace in her love
Needed His Own tender mother
Creator leaning on creation
Salvation rested within her gaze
Perfect Love supported by perfect love
Within the eyes of His Own creation