The fourth in a series of entries in an imaginary journal, as we think about what might have been in the mind of Mary.
“For the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is God’s name.”
Elizabeth’s baby is special, too. For one thing, he is a feisty little guy; part of how she knew I was pregnant, before she even saw it in my face, was that her baby jumped inside of her. I wander what he’ll be like when he’s not in her womb . . .
Oh, and that Gabriel guy, the one who visited me, visited her husband, Zechariah. Showed up right in the Holy of Holies at the Temple—which kind of confirms that he’s not just some weirdo, because getting in and out of there unnoticed is no mean feat. Only one priest goes in there, just once a year, to commune with God. Lots of people are waiting outside when that happens, and there is no other entrance, so nobody gets in there without being seen . . . or without divine help.
Elizabeth said it took her the longest time to figure this all out; Zechariah hasn’t spoken a word since he came out of the Holy of Holies. Between gestures and writing on a tablet, he told her about the whole incident—which, evidently, didn’t go as well for him, since he hasn’t been able to talk since.
Up in Nazareth, we hadn’t even heard they were having a baby yet. And here poor Zechariah, having finally had his turn at such an important ministry (only one priest goes into that special room, only one day of the year), lost his voice while in there. He’s a priest: his voice is a big part of his life. And Elizabeth is, well, older—very old, according to some people, to be having her first baby—and she must be worried about what could go wrong, about whether she will be able to keep up with an active young boy. I know she believes, I know she trusts God, but it is possible to be faithful and fearful all at the same time (believe me).
So I’ve been helping out as much as I can, which means as much as my stubborn cousin will let me. And, of course, she has been helping me even more than I have been helping her. We talk and talk, and she tells me and shows me how, even with all of her difficulties, she is feeling truly blessed right now. Yes, some of that is because she has waited all her adult life to have a baby, and I’m sure she will be so grateful to come to family gatherings where all of the sisters and in-laws and aunts and cousins aren’t clucking about “poor Elizabeth” and how she has never had a baby. But there is more to it than that. For all of the discomfort she has, for all of the uncertainty that they both have, she and Zechariah also have this serenity, this certainty that all of this is part of the plan of God, that, in some small way, they are doing their part to bring salvation to Israel, and God won’t abandon them.
This is something that I have been struggling with. How was I to know that this was really God’s plan, that Gabriel was really a messenger of the Mighty One doing great things for me and in me? How was I to know that I could survive all of this, find a way to tell my family, find a way to tell Joseph? Somehow, I am part of God’s plan. I said “yes” to it all by myself. This isn’t about some man, some adult, somebody else making decisions for me. God is working in and through me, trusting my choices. I am being called to change the world, and I am carrying a child who is holy inside me. I don’t know how, I don’t understand why, and none of this is making any sense. But . . . somehow . . . this is all going to work, no matter what happens.
I am truly a bearer of God!
And, with that in mind, trusting in the sovereignty of God, who is somehow growing inside me, I have to go and be sick now, then get started with my day.