Mary’s Pregnancy Journal–Final Entry

The last in a series of entries in an imaginary journal, as we think about what might have been in the mind of Mary.

“God has helped God’s servant Israel, in remembrance of God’s mercy, according to the promise made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

It was a long night.

I am in a stable behind an inn in Bethlehem. Joseph and I should have realized that there would be so many people coming to Bethlehem, all of them descendants of David in one way or another. But not planning on a place to stay, especially with us taking longer than most folks to make the trip (I just couldn’t keep up the pace). And then, as we wandered the streets, looking for a place to stay, the sun setting, my water broke . . . right in front of an innkeeper. The staff got us settled into the stable, which was probably warmer through the night than any of the rooms for people.

It was a long night.

Labor went on for hours. I thought I’d never get this baby out of me. I guess I even passed out a couple times—not for long, but long enough to scare my husband-to-be. But my son (my son!) came out healthy and was soon screaming, with all the right fingers and toes. We got him cleaned up, found something to wrap him in, and used the feeding trough as a bit of a cradle for him. A bunch of shepherds who had been in the fields outside of town came and told us about some sort of angel patrol who showed up in the dark and announced the birth. Any other night and I would have thought they were drunk.

It was a long night.

I just fed him for a second time—imagine it! God’s Son being suckled and nursed by me—and he’s asleep again in the trough. Joseph is asleep next to me, and I am watching the dawn of a new day. Part of me is wondering about what sort of a new day that will be. Since I imagine few people have paid attention to the shepherds, who aren’t considered to be all that reliable, I don’t expect anybody understands how much things will change; well, how much they really have changed.

We forgot to arrange for a room. We have no idea how we’re going to set ourselves up for housing tomorrow or the next day, or even when the baby is going to be able to make the trip back to Nazareth. Never mind the hundreds, maybe thousands, of other things that could happen to us along the way. But I know the God who saved Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God who saved Israel from Egypt, from the desert, from the Amorites, from the Philistines, from the Babylonians, from the Persians, from themselves, my God, saved us last night when we needed a place to stay, and is saving all of Israel through this tiny child. I know that, somehow, Joseph and I are agents of that salvation. I know that God keeps saving us forever. I know that God’s mercy never quits. And I know that I need it now more than ever. I know that the challenges ahead of me, because of that precious life in the trough, because I am now his mother, are far bigger than anything I worried about after Gabriel visited me, after I ran.

It was a long night.

It won’t be the last long night. And I had better get some sleep while the little man is asleep. I think he may be dictating my schedule for quite a while.

I probably won’t be able to keep a journal. Maybe I can keep pondering things in my heart.

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