Yesterday something happened that I can’t explain. I don’t understand it myself so how can I tell anyone – most of all Joseph and my parents. How will they believe? I can barely believe it myself.
I went to sleep troubled. Thinking. Praying about my experience with the angel that visited me under the fig tree. I was startled by a touch on my shoulder and a heavenly voice sweetly uttering my name. “Mary,” said the angel. It was Gabriel himself. He read my mind because he told me not to be afraid.
I’ve prayed since I was a little girl that Yahweh would use me to bless and glorify Him, it’s all I wanted in life. I told Yahweh this many times.
The angel’s words seemed to answer my heart’s cry beyond what words could express. I will have a baby. He said the baby will come as the Holy Spirit overshadows on and conceives in me. He will be called the Son of God and His name will be Jesus. I was speechless. I was overcome by the magnitude of his message, yet I remembered the scripture from the prophet, “The Lord Himself will give you a sign: the virgin will be pregnant. She will have a son and she will name him Immanuel.” How often in wonder and perplexity have I pondered those words of the Lord and how in this instant I know and understand these words! These holy words are about me! Me! Thirteen and a half year old Mary. Me! I fell on my face before the angel and said aloud, “I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let this happen to me as you say.”
When I awoke I wondered if I had dreamed. But then I knew, in my womb I felt conception take place. The Holy Spirit visited me. I can’t explain it but I knew. I smiled. Tears began to stream down my brown cheeks. Holy tears of joy even though I had no idea how to break this news to others. The angel didn’t give me instructions on this.
Oh Abba, what do I do? That’s when my cousin Elizabeth’s name arose in my thoughts. Yes, I must visit cousin Elizabeth to see if what the angel said about her is true. Could it really be that my aged cousin is pregnant long past the years of childbearing? If so I will know that I am not imagining this. Elizabeth has been more like a mother to me than a cousin. She is wise with Yahweh’s wisdom. Yes, I will go. I will make some excuse to my parents and go to my cousin, my Imma.
I repeated the words to Yahweh that I said to the angel. I bowed low and softly said, “I am your handmaid, Yahweh. Let it be done to me as you say. I will obey as the virgin girl of the prophet’s words.”
July 12 – October 8
The caravan stopped a few hundred feet from Elizabeth and Zechariah’s home. Because of her age and all she has taught me I always called cousin Elizabeth Imma or Mommy. She liked it because she, in great sorrow, had no children. I was like a daughter to her, and she like a mother. She cherished me and I adored her.
Excitement and joy began to well up in me as I quickened my pace to her house. I saw her in the garden where she spent so much of her time. She was facing me but her head was down concentrated on her plants.
“Imma! Imma!” I excitedly called out. She stood suddenly clutching her large abdomen.
It is true I thought to myself in wonder. Elizabeth is with child. There was a holy silence between us when Elizabeth burst out, ”Mary! Daughter! When I heard your greeting the child in me leapt in my womb.”
“Mary, the Lord has been speaking to me about you but I didn’t know why. But, oh child, now I know. You are pregnant with the Most High. For months I have been meditating on the words of the prophet.
I completed the sentence, “A virgin girl will be pregnant. She will have a son and name him Emmanuel.”
Tears streamed down our faces and then Imma took me into her arms and said, “Blessed, blessed are you my lovely daughter because you took the Lord at His word. You believed in simple faith that He chose you to bear His son.”
“Why me Imma,” I asked. She replied, “Daughter look at me! Why me?”
And we laughed until we cried. It was then that I knew somehow it would be alright. I am in His hands. The handmaid of the Lord.
That night as I slept next to Imma I softly prayed in wonder and worship, ”Blessed by Your name, Yahweh. You, rich in mercy, answered my prayer of many years since I was a little girl. All I’ve ever wanted is to be Yours. All I’ve ever wanted is to know You and please. You’ve answered my prayers. I am blessed among all women.”
“Yahweh, I will care for this child, our child! I will care for Him and protect Him with all that is within me. Please teach me how to teach Him and what to teach Him until the day when I know He will teach me.
“Forgive me, Yahweh. I am worried about Joseph. About my parents….” That is when I heard His quiet voice, “Do not be afraid, Mary! The Lord is not only with you, He is in you; in your womb.”
Yes, Abba. I am the handmaid of the Lord.