Full of Grace (May 1)

Welcome back. We continue with the story of Mary and Joseph and the nine months preceding the birth of Jesus in real time. Mary has been sent away to have her child, and while being around her aunt has encouraged her, she finds the situation and her lack of control of it starting to wear on her.

You can go here to read previous entries. Follow my blog so you can get notification of new postings (see sidebar). Or the book is available for purchase if you prefer not to wait. Note: there are Hebrew words sprinkled through it. You can find a listing of them and their definitions here. The next post will be May 12.


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20 Sivan

Elizabeth takes a break from washing clothes to stretch out and enjoy the cool breeze. The work is back-breaking enough without the babe kicking her. It seemed he couldn’t wait to be born. Truthfully, though, she was ready for him to be born. Selfishly, because she was tired; of course, she couldn’t wait to meet him and hold him and introduce him to Zechariah and Mary and…

Speaking of which, where was Mary?

Elizabeth looks around her. Wading just at the river’s edge is a handful of other women, chatting and washing clothes, but Mary is not amongst them. With a sigh, Elizabeth stands up and waddles up the path to her house. It is quiet, as always. Zechariah, she knows, is studying, but Mary is not in the main room, eating, as Elizabeth thought she might be. She finds her, instead, in her room, lying down on her bed with her back to the door. The sun streaming in through the window illuminates her small figure.

“Are we going to rest all day?” Elizabeth asks, keeping her tone light so Mary knows she is not chiding her.

Mary rolls over and looks at her for a moment, before turning back to the wall. Elizabeth notes how red and swollen her eyes are. She walks over to Mary.

“What’s wrong?”

Mary shakes her head. Elizabeth uneasily lowers herself onto the bed, unable to find a comfortable spot. She ignores her body for a moment and turns her attention to Mary, wiping a tear as it falls from her eye.

“Tell me what’s wrong, child,” she softly pleads. She had always felt a motherly connection to her sister’s children. And even now, with Mary being as old as she was, expecting her first child, the sentiment was no different. “Are you ill?”

“No more than usual,” she quietly states.

Mary had excused herself from dinner the previous evening after throwing up the contents of her stomach. Elizabeth knew she was embarrassed, but it was all part of the process: the child within her was growing and her body was making the necessary adjustments. Still, it had to be hard on her, being so young and away from home.

“Talk to me, nechadnit,” Elizabeth says.

Mary lies back on the mat.

Doda, I am grateful you’ve opened your home to me, but I’m supposed to be in Nazareth, getting ready for Joseph, not hiding from him. I’m supposed to be celebrating this pregnancy, enjoying the blessings and honor Adonai has bestowed on me, not hiding them from the world. Everything is so out of order; this is just not the way things are supposed to be.”

The hurt in her voice is apparent. Elizabeth desires to be sensitive to her, but she knows Mary is still young. She still has some growing up and learning to do. Wisdom would come with age; until then, Mary would have to rely on the understanding of others to help her, which was where Elizabeth came in: the pain, she couldn’t take, but the wisdom, she could certainly offer.

“Life was not always as we think it should be. Look at our history: since the days of Abraham, many have tried to annihilate our people. Even as Adonai’s chosen, we are subjected to a cruel master. But we are still here. We are still multiplying, despite our children dying at the hands of the goyem. This is what it means to be favored and graced of Adonai. Not that life is supposed to be a certain way, rather that his strength and his mercy are available to us for our survival.

“Mary, look at me. I am still here. And because I am still here, I have lived to see the day when the stigma of barrenness was removed from me. The child will be a blessing to me and Zechariah and to the world. It is because of the grace of Adonai that we’ve survived long enough to see this day and now we can praise him for it. Do you understand what I am saying?”

Mary nods.

“I know this situation is not ideal, but there is no precedence for it either. We can’t say, this is how it should be. However, we can decide, with Adonai’s grace, to live long enough to see the end of what he started. You believed, now see it through,” Elizabeth finishes with a smile. Her heart always soared when it came to the things of G-d. She could talk about him forever.

Mary’s countenance doesn’t change though.

“Your parents were doing what they thought was best for you,” she adds, hoping to lift her spirit. “They love you. They were just trying to protect you.”

Mary shrugs her shoulders.

“Tell you what; we’ll write to your imma; perhaps she’ll listen to reason. But it is Adonai you must put your faith in. He is the only one who can fix this, alright?”

Mary nods in agreement.

“Good. Now help me up, we have clothes to wash.”

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