Monday, 23 June 2014

To Elizabeth

Some thoughts on the eve of the feast of the birth of John the Baptist....

Were you anxious, Mother Elizabeth?
Barren all those years, yet now - miracle of miracles - pregnant!
At your age!
All those years of scorn and pity from the other women,
all those years of self-torment and self-blame:
"The scriptures say the good man will be blessed with many children,
so what have I done wrong?
Or is it my husband, Zechariah, who has sinned? 
Is God punishing us by withholding life?"
But, no, Elizabeth,
God has a very special job for you and your husband!
You are to give birth to the Messenger,
the Herald,
the Way-Preparer.
Your tiny son, kicking in your womb,
will bring the dawn of the new age,
a new covenant, between God and the world - 
yes, the world! - 
not just your own people, the people special to God,
but all peoples because, 
at last,
Israel is ready to learn that all peoples are God's.

So here you are, on the eve of the birth,
pacing around,
panting with pain,
coping with the pangs of the coming birth.
Are you afraid that your old body will not cope,
when even young women labour so?
Do you fear you may die in the process?
Yet, like all mothers-to-be, 
you probably feel it will be worth it,
that your own death doesn't matter,
as long as your child is born safe and well.

I wonder what Zechariah is feeling?
Mute, he cannot easily share his concern for you.
Tensely sitting with the other men,
left out of Women's Mysteries,
waiting for God's miracle to be born.

And what of your cousin, Mary?
She, too, carries a Miraculous Child -
one more amazing than anyone can imagine!
When she visited you in your sixth month
you felt the Quickening of life recognizing Life.
How you both rejoiced!
Has anyone thought to tell her and Joseph
that your child is on his way?
How glad she will be!
And how many questions she will have to ask
of what it is like to give birth!

Ah, Mother Elizabeth, bear with the pain,
for it will all be worth it 
when you hold your special child in your arms!
Rejoice, Mother Elizabeth,
For the herald of your Saviour
is soon to be born!

Image by Google search

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