“Let all mortal flesh keep silence and with fear and trembling stand
Ponder nothing earthly-minded, for with blessing in His hand
Christ our God to earth descendeth
Our full homage to demand.”
This Sabbath was read in synagogue the scroll of Isaiah, the part which begins with the people walking in darkness seeing a great light. John bounced in my arms as I stood with him behind the women’s screen, his excited shrieks turning several heads at “You shall increase their gladness.”
I carried him to the back, but he wouldn’t quiet until I put him to suckle. Even then his brown eyes danced up at me, his strong little legs pushing against my side. Could he possibly have understood the words, as he did when he heard Mary’s call while still in the womb?
Running my hand over his dark curls, I marveled anew at the wondrous contrast between my lined fingers and his firm, round cheeks. I wanted to shout to the women around me, who glanced at us with indulgent smiles or lifted brows, that the light is coming, indeed is here, if yet unseen. But that is not my place. It will be my son’s. So I just pressed him close and kissed the baby fist gripping my thumb.
Sometimes my heart thrills so it near to bursts from my throbbing chest, as Zechariah look at each other and at our son, as the age-old promises are read, like a prelude ripe with portent to an uncomprehending people.
“Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. Then Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength . . .”
Other times I am almost frightened as I hold my baby close. How will the pious faces around us receive his message, when it comes time for him to give it? How will they receive the One he will announce?
But I must cling to the holy angel’s words to Zechariah: “Do not be afraid.” And for now rejoice in the moment, in my child whose sweet scent fills my nose, in this kicking, chortling bundle of prayers at long last heard. And in awaiting another Answer to prayers offered still longer—to the LORD’s holy promise kept and soon to be given birth up in Nazareth town.
Her time is drawing near. I wonder how Mary fares these days.
Originally posted December 5, 2011