“Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Luke 1:42
Her hands were covered in flour as she kneaded the dough back and forth, up and down. She pushed the dough to evenly mix the moisture through the flour and yeast. The rhythm gave her mind a chance to wonder as her body worked. A smile bloomed on her face as she recalled the tenderness of her husband over the past six months. Though mute, he had expressed his love for her and his awe at the workings of God.
She put her hand to her back as she straightened it. A small look of concern passed her eyes as she wondered yet again why she hadn't felt her child move, though she had carried him for six months. Perhaps here was her test to believe what Zechariah had been told. That even at her age, she would bear a son. While stroking her side, she pondered what joy and gladness this promise gave.
She sat on a bench in the courtyard and leaned against the wall to let the warmth of the sun soak the tension from her face. “Ah, just for a moment to enjoy the quiet.”
“Elizabeth – Elizabeth...”
Her hands flew to hold her stomach as her mouth laughed out loud. She got to her feet as quickly as she could as her dear young kinswoman entered the courtyard. They reached to embrace each other and laughed as their faces touched but their bodies were interrupted by her stomach swollen with child. Mary's eyes widened as she felt movement against her during their embrace. She backed away enough to place her hand on her cousin's side and marveled at this movement she was yet to feel in her own body.
Once again they pressed cheeks, pulled back, and, as their eyes met, they shared their joy, their blessing. In that look, Elizabeth saw with her heart more than her mind could conceive.
Filled with the Holy Spirit, she cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy!”
The following was published in the Texarkana Parent Magazine in the November/December 2012 issue. It is on page 25 of the following: http://editiondigital.net/publication/?i=131938
Corby Eisbacher's artwork depicts the meeting between two pregnant women: Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist and Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Advent season is a time to ponder Christ's coming to our world, a story the New Testament records for us beginning with his conception and early in his teen-aged mother's pregnancy.
I remember a time when I felt like their older kinswoman, Elizabeth. At age 36, I found myself unexpectedly pregnant. My first two pregnancies had no morning sickness. With this one, I was miserable from waking in the morning until finally falling asleep at night. I just wanted my mom, who happened to be backpacking across Europe without today's convenient internet connections! As I started to feel better, my doctor diagnosed placenta previa that placed me at even higher risk. Soon thereafter, my husband's job, our sole source of income, was terminated.
Somehow in the midst of the poverty, weakness, and fear, God's love broke through. He taught us the truth of his words in 2 Cor 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” The power of Christ's love was proven in so many ways: a baby shower from strangers, a job for David, money coming from unexpected avenues, generous and skilled doctors. Most of all, his loving strength broke through in the joy we found in each other and in the safe delivery of our healthy baby girl.
The afternoon following her birth, her pediatrician came to my room. He laid his hand on her, smiled, and said, “She is one of God's miracles.” I was delighted by his description and pondered how she is a miracle of God's love. It was years later before I realized that he probably said this about every infant he examined. What a wonderful way to affirm that each child is a gift of God's loving creation.
Though it was an unplanned pregnancy, Catherine was never an unwanted child. I couldn't imagine why it was so painful, but God knew well the plans he had for us. He reminded us that, “when you seek me with all your heart, you will find me with you, and I will change your lot.” Jer 29:13-14
He not only changed our lot, but the lives of so many who know and love Catherine.
During this Thanksgiving season, I pray for pregnant women, especially those at high risk. May God the Father provide for their needs through the loving actions of others. May Jesus, our brother, strengthen them, breaking into their world with joy. And may their fears be soothed with a sure awareness of the Holy Spirit's plan for their lives.