Tuesday, September 22, 2009

And then she...

After a long day, and a longer year, she decided to run a bath, to soak, to read. She often forgot how tired her limbs were until they rested.

The book made her laugh, and smile, and crease her brow with thought.

But one can only run more hot water so many times, she thought, resigning herself to the inevitable reality of shriveled toes that cuts short even the most serene moments. She put her book aside but lingered, pregnant belly emerging out of the water like a new island. A few quiet moments without distraction.

And then she began to weep.

There was so much she wanted to give this child, so much she had hoped to present it upon entering the world.Who could understand the anguish of feeling so empty-handed at such an important time? She wanted to work, wanted more to work, wanted to serve, to fulfill a calling, to be, and by being, to be more. Who could understand the desperation of wanting to give something so much and having nothing to give? This was not the way she had wanted her child to be welcomed.

Who could understand? The stinging eyes overflowed and gasped. Her mind went back, back before she knew time, to two parents who had felt this infinitely more than she ever would. Of all the people God chose to raise the Son, he chose a poor couple with a rough year behind them. The Incarnation had not been lauded by bestowing honor on the house of a recognized ruler. The Incarnation came, as it came into the world, into the arms first of two people - two honest, tired, hard-working, poor people. Mary had no registry; the only female support mentioned was her cousin; and at the end of an uncomfortable season, she had to ride cross country on a smelly animal, with no concern shown her stretch marks, or her pocketbook, or her heartburn. How ill-equipped she must have felt. How worried Joseph must have been. A miraculous pregnancy meant not only stares from the townspeople, but a family to support, off the bat. No booties from well-wishers to the new mother: when the time finally came, her precious child was welcomed into the world via a slobbery, hay-filled feeding trough. This was the Son of God.

Where Mary gleaned her comfort from, she could not be sure; but as she wept in the bathtub, she found comfort in the ways of God to bless the poor. And then she found the voice, whispering, nudging, convincing, that being poor is not a punishment; that God honors the poor with children; and that God found favor with her - even when she failed to remember it.


Unknown said...

Unbelievable vulnerability. Thank you.

vanilla said...

Elizabeth, this is one of the most touching 'short stories' I've read in a while. The segue from the young woman's focus on self to the focus on the birth of the Savior is quite moving.

As you say, God honors the poor with children. And I know God honors you for your faithfulness.