December 24, 2010

M.D. Harmon: It's an old tale, but she who told it first knows it is ever new

How do we know so much about this event? We were told by one who was there, of course.

So, you're the physician and amanuensis, here with pen and scrolls to take down my story? Yes, I have told it many times -- the Twelve know it by heart -- but I will tell it one more time so that you may write it for others to read.

Keisha Castle-Hughes
click image to enlarge

Mary of Nazareth was portrayed by Keisha Castle-Hughes in the 2006 film, “The Nativity Story.”

The Associated Press

Joseph had come that very day to my parents to see if they would consent to our marriage.

He was older, and his hands were scarred by slipped chisels and sharp knives, very rough and worn they were, like any carpenter's. Yet, his eyes were kind and often twinkled with quiet amusement, and he looked at me as a man looks at a woman, the first man to do so since I had left girlhood.

Of course, I had seen him, too. Our village was not large and my potential husbands were not many, and he was strong and tall among them.

So I was happy when my parents said yes, and I listened with joy as they talked with him of my dowry and a day, but I did not know what was to come.

I had just gone to sleep, still filled with quiet joy, when a low sound that seemed like music but wasn't quite a song awakened me. My room was filled with a soft and golden light that had no source, and then I was not alone in it.

I saw nothing with my eyes, but in my mind and, yes, my soul, there was a shimmering presence standing by my bed.

My visitor told me in words that resonated without sound that I had been chosen by God for something that had never happened before in the history of the world.

Overwhelmed? Oh, that I was, but so much more I knew that I was in the presence of Love.

What could I do but rejoice in it, and then pass it on to the one I already knew was present beneath my breast?

I told Joseph the next day, and his eyes did not laugh. I waited for him to ask me who the father was, but it was clear that his pain prevented any questions and blocked his understanding when I tried to tell him how it had come to pass.

I cried that night, but then was overcome by a wave of peace that told me without words, All Will Be Well.

And in the morning Joseph was back, to tell me of his dream and say we would still be wed, if I would have him.

I laughed out loud then, and we fell to making plans. I had a trip to make to see my cousin Elizabeth, to find she too had a baby awaiting birth that would be linked to my own son in the unfolding years.

But then the Roman heralds came, and we were uprooted and sent out journeying so that we could be counted in the census. It was a foolish thing, and a difficult ride for me, and yet large prophecies come true from difficult and foolish things.

So it was that we ended up in the town named House of Bread -- now I know why, both Micah's words and the bread we share tell why -- but the City of David didn't welcome David's heir, and we ended up in a cave on a bed of straw with naught but beasts for our companions.

The birth, the shepherds with their angel guides, the star, the Eastern mages who came on camels and gave us what we needed to survive our stay in Egypt, all that you have already heard about and recorded.

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