I wake this morning to the sound of rain pounding on our back porch. I lay still and listen. I guess it's fitting that the weather would be inclement today. It's probably snowing at home. And I'm sure it's icing in more places. Inconvenient to the holiday travelers.

This week I think about inconvenience.

Not the stuck in traffic or the grocery store is out of your cereal kind of inconvenience. The dramatic kind, the sort that interrupts your day or your life with news you never expected or always dreaded. The "Mary, virgin, you're going to have a baby" sort of inconvenience.

So many times I wonder, checking the tenderness of my heart, "God, do you mean this for me? Now? This thing for this moment? Couldn't it be later? Better? More? Less? Anything but?" Even joy feels inconvenient sometimes. I want to hang on to the apathy or fear because it feels more comfortable there, more fitting for a kid as disappointing as I am.

I think about this all week: why is virginity so important for the mother of Jesus to possess? I think all my life I have assumed that the reason for her virginity was because only purity can beget purity and this might be my Catholic heritage hanging on a bit. December 8th, my birthday, falls on the Day of Immaculate Conception I've always been told--perhaps I am destined to think about such things. To me, this woman in white and blue is the epitome of purity, the only picture of what God requires from those he can use.

I realize recently how contrary to the gospel that thinking is.

And I may speak heresy here, forgive me, I'm still stumbling around these truths.

I think God could have used, just as easily, a stained and worn woman, a broken and cast aside girl, someone with a story of sins a mile high, and he did. They are written there in the lineage of Jesus---Rahab and Tamar, near Leah and Bathsheba, women who strung the threads of sin into their story, who bought their impurity at the hands of deceived men.

This morning I land on this: it was not her virginity that prized Mary above them all, she who was not sinless, who had committed sins of fear and envy, disobedience and untruth. She was not holy and this was not her reward, this Inconvenient Conception. It might have been any girl in that lineage, at any time. Her child was not the reward of her purity, He was the result of the miraculous.

And this is the only reason why an impossible conception was hers.

I think about that this morning. I think about the inconvenient things, the broken things, the difficult things, the ways I have worked for honesty and purity and faith and sometimes seen no reward. I think about how God does miracles in the middle of impossible situations and surprises the world with his methods. Not as rewards (His grace is more beautiful than a system of that caliber), but as proof of His goodness.

I weep on that. As this year closes out, as I think about how faithlessly I began 2010 and how broken I was midway through. I think past regrettable ways I have acted and unfortunate things I have said. I process the reward I have now, this almost inconvenient peace (or at the very least, unmerited peace).

I think to myself: Thank you Father, that you do not always save the best things for the best behaved, thank you that sometimes you choose us on the merit of the miracle alone.