So as I think and contemplate about Mary Elizabeth Yoshiko Somers-Harris who has reached the grand old age of 23 on this auspicious occasion, I am awed as I recall how, not knowing anything yet in faith and obedience, Rhonda and I accepted this child of Joy into our family. Joy is fully a part of her Japanese name 喜子 and was at the centre of the Bible narrative that led to us calling her “Mary Elizabeth”.
However, due to her life experiences with POTS, which is an ongoing battle, Mary’s life has not been a daily experience of Joy. Somehow though in the midst of her sufferings Mary seems to be able to exude and bring Joy to almost everyone she meets. Her life experiences and hidden illness have given her a heart of deep compassion which results in unceasing efforts to reach out to and stand up for the marginalized and oppressed.
Both of these are deeply entrenched in the story of Mary and Elizabeth from the Bible narrative. In Church history it was first observed by the Franciscians from before 1263 and soon its observance spread throughout the entire Church. The Franciscian order was known for reaching out to the poor and oppressed people of the world.
Then in the song of Mary we read: “He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.” So Mary’s life has in many ways encompassed both the Joy and the suffering that is discovered in the full story of her birthday.
Happy Birthday, Mary Elizabrth Yoshiko.