How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?

How do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you find a word that means Maria?
A flibbertigibbet! A will-o’-the wisp! A clown!

Maria was different. The nuns required that she fit in – Maria wanted to fit in – but she didn’t. She was ‘a problem’.

Our institutions – schools, churches, clubs – require that we conform and fit in…

Many a thing you know you’d like to tell her
Many a thing she ought to understand
But how do you make her stay
And listen to all you say
How do you keep a wave upon the sand?

Our ‘problems’ must fit in. We persuade, show that our way is best. We become more aggressive, we apply pressure, we try to knock sense into ‘the problem’. If all else fails we exclude. After all they are ‘the problem’…

But the problem lay in the abbey; they couldn’t see Maria’s potential and adapt to it.

This is the Christmas story: the baby who welcomes smelly shepherds and wise intellectuals grows to be a man who welcomes and sees potential in the non-conformist, the un-usual, the misfit and the ragamuffin.

The problem is not the individual but the non-accepting abbey, church, school…

She is gentle! She is wild!
She’s a riddle! She’s a child!
She’s a headache! She’s an angel!
She’s a girl!

With Maria, in our humanity, we all share this mixture of good and bad, conformity and rebellion, understood, misunderstood and totally incomprehensible. In that is both problem and potential.

Maria proves to be compassionate, understanding, determined, and clear thinking. And God used her unique, different, special gifts not hidden in the safe confines of an abbey, but in the public vulnerability of everyday life; the love and freedom of a family.

How do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?

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