Three Months Together (December 13, 2012)

…Opening To…

Did not her eyes as grey as doves
Alight like the peace of a new world upon that house, upon miraculous Elizabeth?
Her salutation Sings in the stone valley like a Charterhouse bell:
And the unborn saint John Wakes in his mother’s body,
Bounds with the echoes of discovery. (Thomas Merton)

…Listening In…

Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months, and then returned to her home. When the time came for Elizabeth to have her child, she gave birth to a boy. Her neighbors and relatives celebrated with her because they had heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy. On the eighth day, it came time to circumcise the child. They wanted to name him Zechariah because that was his father’s name. But his mother replied, “No, his name will be John.” (Luke 1:56-60; context)

…Filling Up…

I love the detail about Mary staying with Elizabeth for three months. If we add that to the six months that Elizabeth was pregnant when the angel came to Mary, we arrive at John’s full gestation time. As John was coming to full term, Jesus was just starting to show up on the sonogram, distinguishable from the background noise by a large nascent head and tiny nose. Their mothers, one would imagine, shared every meal over the course of Mary’s visit, which means that the same nutrients nurtured both John and Jesus in the womb.

I imagine that Mary learned how to be pregnant by watching Elizabeth. (After all, What to Expect When You’re Expecting was still 1,984 years from publication.) I imagine that Elizabeth made a soothing herbal tea for Mary when the younger woman developed morning sickness. I imagine that Mary did Elizabeth’s chores when the elder woman’s back began to hurt in the later months. I imagine that they probably also wept and shouted and complained both to and at each other.

These two women carried within them our savior Jesus Christ and his herald John, who is called the Baptizer. And for those three overlapping months I think Mary and Elizabeth nurtured and supported one another, and held their hands on each other’s abdomens to feel the babies kicking. (John surely kicked more because he was bigger, and because that was his nature.) With their care of each other, these two unlikely women set up a pattern that assured that their infants came into a world of nurturing love. The world outside the family unit might have been dark and dangerous, but in the fold, there was joy.

…Praying For…

Dear God, you nurture me as a mother cares for her children. Help me to reach out my hands in love to support and nurture those that you place in my path. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, with a song in my heart about the way you are reshaping this world in the image of your kingdom.

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