Full of Grace (40)

Happy Monday and welcome back – or just welcome, if you’re just joining us. In today’s portion, Joseph and Mary spend their first night together. If you’re familiar with the tale, you know nothing happened, and while the Bible is silent on that subject, I believe it gives us a clue to why: Joseph was afraid. Of what, we can’t say for certain, but the angel Gabriel encouraged him to put his fear aside and wed Mary anyway. I mention this because as I wrote the part, it occurred to me there are two camps when it comes to Mary and her virginity that I need to keep in mind – 1. Mary remained a virgin for the remainder of her life; and 2. she and Joseph consummated their marriage after Jesus’ birth. I’m in the second camp and while this is something I will not be writing in this novella, it is something I will allude to as the story (and Mary’s pregnancy) progresses. Regardless of whatever camp you’re in, my hope is that you’ll enjoy the story. Thanks again for stopping by. 

* * *

Mary keeps her head down as Joseph leads her to his room (their room now, he thinks). Her modesty is charming and she can barely look into his face, anticipating, like him, what is to come next – the consummation of their marriage.

Still, even as he shuts the door, leaving their family and celebration downstairs, Joseph finds he is not as excited as he should be…and not because he didn’t want to be with Mary. There is something different about her, something special. She was still the same girl, yes, but knowing she was chosen of G-d to carry the Mashiac…well, who was he to venerate her as anything less? He didn’t fancy himself as less deserving, but having thought of the situation with greater clarity, who was he to treat the mother of the Mashiac as ordinary and pretend he knew what it would be like to be a father to the deliverer of Israel? What would he teach him? How to carve wood or make a table? Joseph had always been proud of his profession – it was what his father taught him and something Joseph hoped to pass onto his son one day too. But now things were different and he wasn’t sure there was anything he could offer beyond protection. That’s what Mary needed the most now, right? She was smaller, precious, more fragile and he just couldn’t think of her in anyway less than that.

Still facing the door, Joseph takes a deep breath and turns around. Mary stands quietly in the middle of the room, her hands in front of her, her gaze downward. She shifts her weight from one foot to the next. She is just as anxious as he. Perhaps…

“Mary.”

She eyes him briefly, with unease, before looking back down.

He clears his throat and begins again.

“I know we’ve been betrothed for some months now, but with everything’s that occurred, I thought…I mean, perhaps we…perhaps you would feel more comfortable if we waited…if we waited until you were more comfortable. I mean with this being so sudden…”

She gazes up at him again, but it’s no longer with worry or concern.

“Really?”

Joseph nods, relieved with her acquiescence.

“Until you’re ready,” he reiterates and steps closer to her. He takes her small, smooth hands into his calloused ones and holds on tightly.

“I like this,” Mary admits, with a shy smile, “when you hold me. I’m ready for that.”

Joseph smiles, and pulls her in closer.

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