Pregnant

Joy is a thing with wings that flies ever to its source;

and if that source is love, how beautiful its course.

 Like a bird cupped gently in the hands, she holds the joy of her good news close to her heart, eager to set free the fluttering wings and let it fly. Such an intimate gift has been given to Mary by the Mighty One – to her, a simple, humble girl, with nothing to give in return. Having opened herself completely to God and surrendering her whole self to His Word, her heart now beats solely for love of Him and the Divine child that she is secretly bearing within her. Mary, enraptured with love, needs to share that love with a kindred soul, as the joy of it fills her near to bursting. So, with alacrity, and with no worry for the distance of the journey, the young woman sets off for the hills of Judah to be with her kinswoman, Elizabeth – who, Mary has been told, has also been blessed with a miraculous pregnancy.

Some 90 miles as the dove flies, on rocky paths, over swells and dales, through the gold and green land of Palestine in springtime, Mary travels swiftly and tirelessly, her joy undaunted, her desire undimmed. Along the way, she accepts night’s shelter and a few serendipitous cart rides from the kindness of strangers. The flutterings and singings of the good news that is nestled deeply in Mary’s heart shine forth on her face to the people, the animals, even the trees and the very stones, that she passes by. All is lightness and goodwill with her, wherever she is in her journey. When, finally, after several days sojourning, she comes to the hillside atop which Elizabeth’s home is perched, Mary can contain her excitement no longer and breaks into a run up the long, terraced path. She calls out as she flies, “Elizabeth! Elizabeth!” Her exultation expressed in her cries.

Just within the open doorway of the stone house, Elizabeth drops the spinning from her hands. Something has caught her attention. The ball of wool rolls across the floor as she turns her eyes, puzzled, to look outward. She wonders what it was. Something very far off, yet very near, something like the sound of a song or a prayer or a whispered breeze… or like the deepest silence. Elizabeth pushes herself up from her seat and looks out through the door, listening, but hears nothing distinctive. And then, suddenly, she hears, as clear as day, the sounding of her own name. The baby within her womb leaps in response, like a lamb in the sunshine, with joy all through, and Elizabeth is overcome with awe. Young Mary now appears in the courtyard, panting and beaming, trembling with gladness, her ready greeting flowing out from her lips.

The girl is radiant with the morning sun and Elizabeth, shielding her sight from the glow, moves closer. As the older woman looks into Mary’s dark, sparkling eyes, she feels herself gazing into the depths of the starry cosmos, into paradisiacal beauty, a glimpse of pure genesis. “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” Elizabeth’s testimony pours out of her soul and the entirety of her being with the rush of Spirit within her. She herself begins to tremble with joyful humility and wonder, saying, “And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy.” The aging eyes light up with the brightness of realized faith and hope. “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord,” Elizabeth says, as she looks with true veneration and affection upon the woman before her, and then is silent.

Mary’s deep eyes widen with the wonder of the words that she has been hearing from her kinswoman. She unconsciously presses her small hands upon her own abdomen as she looks upon Elizabeth’s pregnancy and she smiles with deep sympathy. Like Mary, Elizabeth is in humble awe to be blessed by the Lord. Mary knows that it is the presence of the divine child within her that has pulled such praise from Elizabeth’s soul. In a new, deeper fullness of understanding of the gift that she herself has been given, Mary’s heart rises with the glory of the Lord. The joy of the good news, which she has been holding close for so long, Mary now releases in glorious flight as she proclaims,

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.   For behold, from now on all generations  will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.  And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.  He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.  He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,  as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.

The two women of expectancy join hands. Mary’s song of praise has filled them with delight and deeply satisfying peace – with blessedness. The young woman laughs as she twines her arm through her elder’s.  Together they enter the stone house, trusting in the goodness of God to feed all who hunger for holiness, to lift up all who are poor in spirit, and to keep the divine promise of Salvation and Newness of Life made for all who believe in God’s word.

Christina Chase

This has been Part 3 of the Mary Series (continued from In the Cloud of Glory… )

In the Cloud of Glory a Portal Opens

Mary Series: Part 2 (continued from A Stranger Appears… )

        First troubled with wonder and puzzlement, then sincerely trusting and deeply curious, a young woman’s response to a strange visitor is about to change the world. Of all the human beings to be conceived in all of time, she is the single one chosen for the single most earth-shattering – and earth-redeeming – mission to be given to a creature born of woman and man. The divine message has been revealed to Mary, kneeling on the earthen floor of her childhood home, her hands lying still on her lap, bits of bread dough on her fingers, that she will conceive and bear a son whose kingdom will have no end: the Messiah, the Chosen One of God. Mary wants to know how she, as a virgin, will become pregnant – not because she is doubtful, but because she has faith in God’s word. She just wants to know, in simple and beautiful human curiosity, how it is going to happen. Mary’s angelic visitor, Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, does not punish Mary for asking such an honest and faithful question. Her innocence is rewarded with an answer.

        To Mary, the angel says, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.”
Finished speaking, the angel waits for Mary’s response.

        Thoughts blow through Mary’s practical mind like clouds are borne across the May sky.  So, Joseph will not be the father – but, will he know? Will an angel tell him of the pregnancy so that he will not be alarmed and hurt when her body begins to swell with the child? Or will the origin of the child be kept as secret as it is mysterious and, so, she be accused of the adulterous betrayal of her betrothed, the punishment for which is death by stoning? …Son of God… And hear: Elizabeth’s long prayed for baby is given to her – wondrous news from Almighty God!  The thought vapors of Mary’s mind do not gather and darken in storm but, rather, are dissipated by the constant current of Mary’s will, enabling the light to shine clearly.

        For with God nothing will be impossible.

        Mary, ever faithful to first love purely given to her in the spark of her life, believes. She has been told that it is Divine Will for her to bear the Son of God, who shall be conceived in her womb by the power of God overshadowing her. Whatever human interference may try to thwart the plan of Providence, Mary is willing to place herself in God’s hands. No matter the earthly consequences, the cost or risk to her personal life, Mary wills not to be deceived. For, she knows that life itself is the gratuitous gift of Eternal Being – gift created by, with, and for, love. And she knows who she is – all that she has been and all she ever will be – the eternal servant of love. It is because of her great love that Mary will refuse God nothing. She is entirely willing to give all of herself away… to be the poorest of the poor, the lowest of the low, an empty vessel to be filled with God’s incarnate love.
Mary knows exactly who she is and she wills never to forget.

        Never has a human being been more free than Mary is in this moment. Unfettered, unchained, unbound is she by any self-centered concern that is but folly to one who experiences true freedom. Created in the divine image and likeness, Mary most perfectly reflects the divine power of freewill and intellect and imagination in the clarity of her mind, body, heart, and soul, here and now. God wills her total freedom. She must choose. All Creation, the natural and the supernatural, suspends.

        Holding back nothing, with clear eyes, light breath, tender mouth, and her palms upturned, Mary raises her heart to the messenger of Divinity, thus lifted up while still on her knees on the earthen floor. “Behold,” she says simply and wholeheartedly, spreading her arms open wide, “I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

        Thus, in pure, free abandonment, Mary completely gives over her person and her life to God, so that God may do with her whatsoever He wills. At the sounding of her last syllables, your word, the angel of the Lord bows down low before Mary and then departs from her, as a lamp light departs with the rising of the sun.

        In the sleepy village of Nazareth, a mist is forming, laden with the fragrance of lilies and roses. Some see it merely as steam rising from cooking pots and others as smoke from the trash burning fire. The mist is rolling sweetly and with greater intensity around the home of the virgin named Mary. Within, Mary quietly, with the utmost peace in all her mind, heart, and body, every limb, continues the making of the day’s bread. As the mist enters like a cloud through the open door, the woman presses her small hands deeply into the dough and exhales, hushed, consumed by love.

* * *

        All cruelty cease in this moment, all pride vanish on earth, for what has begun with the free assent of a human being to God – Restoration to Paradise begins its rush into the world! A modest child thinks not of herself, but only of the Holy Other and, purely giving herself away, allows a portal to be opened through which God Godself enters mortality by assuming human nature.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. …the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters “…the Power of the Most High will overshadow you…” “There I will meet with you… I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat” …the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. … And the Word became flesh… in him the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily….

        Glory to God in the Highest! Thy Shekinah glory…

        Yes, let there be, in this fraction of a moment in the Eternal Now, not one act of tyranny nor deception nor apathy among mortals – for Truth Itself, Love Itself, is willingly taking on human flesh in utter humility, and thereby sanctifying us all. Oh, glorious heartbeat across the blue and green earth that, in this moment when time was pierced and space was torn, beat with remembered purity and freedom, when human will was married with the will of the Divine and Divine Incarnate fruit takes form! …Yet… only for that gleam of a moment, only for one quick beat of the heart, and then, humans, unaware of the actual living presence of their Savior in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, unaware of the Kingdom of God quickening, return to their forgetfulness, neglectfulness, resuming their fallen, self-centered ways, all…

        …But for Mary…

   Christina Chase

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 Scripture quotes in italics  taken from John 1:1, Genesis 1:2, Luke 1:35, Exodus 25:22, Leviticus 16:2, Exodus 40:34, John 1:14, Philippians 2:7-8

Pondering in Her Heart

God knows what’s in my heart.…  Do I?

“And when [the shepherds] saw [the babe in the manger] they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.  But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.”  (Luke 2:17-19.)

When Jesus is a grown man, during his earthly ministry, he responds to someone who declares that his mother is blessed for having nursed him by saying, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.”  (Luke 11:28.)  This, of course, Mary also did and so she is blessed – and we can all be blessed, too.  “To keep” can mean to obey – and it can also mean to treasure or safeguard.  The Blessed Virgin Mother hears God’s will for her and she believes.  She believes in God and accepts His word as true.  (Luke 1:45.)  She willingly obeys and says yes.  To believe, credo, also means to give one’s whole heart, one’s whole self, to God’s word.  Mary also does this.  She gives her whole heart, her whole self, over to the Word of God… And the Word of God is made flesh through her.  As a mother, and as a disciple, she keeps Him treasured in her heart all the days of her life.

What is in my own heart?  If I am still and silent, will I find, deep within me, God’s Word treasured and safeguarded with love?  Or will I only find the throbbings of my own words and self-centered desires?  Do I let lust for earthly things, doubt and despair constrict my heart?  Or do I quietly accept and contemplate the wonders of God’s Presence, pondering Divine Love in my heart, keeping the Word Incarnate safe and loved in my sacred core?  To be truly blessed, I don’t need to accomplish mighty deeds that gain praise from the crowds.  I need only to be humble and receptive, quiet, open to the Majesty of His Word, willing to give myself completely to God – body, mind, heart and soul… in this moment… eternally now.