January 4, 2006
Hope everyone's enjoyed their Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Santa or simply I-don't-have-to-go-to-work celebrations. As a good Episcopalian, I'm only on the eleventh day of Christmas. (Tom has decided against getting me eleven pipers piping).
I guess it shouldn't come as any surprise that this is quite an emotional Christmas. How can you expect a woman great with child and suped up on hormones to sing emotive hymns about the Christ-child in a candlelit church without crying?
Meanwhile, I find myself thinking obsessively about what the birth of Jesus must have been like. How many hours did Mary labor? How far along was she? How long did she spend in transition?
A Protestant Ponders Mary
Let's make one thing clear: I'm a steadfast Protestant. I've thought about naming my dogs after Reformers: "Sit, Luther! Heel, Cranmer!" To me, Hail, Mary is a football term.
Yet this pregnancy has turned my mind to Mary so often, I feel some sort of kinship with her. Like, if we were to meet, we could talk over our symptoms. She might say things like, "Yeah, that first trimester was a real kicker."
With this kinship comes a new compassion for the circumstances of her birthing Jesus. Everyone says that no matter how you fantasize your labor, it's never how you expect. Well, Mary is living proof. Not that she expected an epidural, but I'm sure she didn't picture laying her child in a feeding trough.
Was she afraid? Did she know what to do? Chances are, she had witnessed female relatives giving birth. She probably had a better idea of what to expect than women today would. Still, I doubt she imagined being alone for the experience. Or, rather, with a man twice her age and with whom she'd never slept. Women in her day labored with the support of their closest female relatives.
Yet I also know how little all these circumstances must have mattered to Mary when the crying child was born. What were her first words to him? How her heart must have throbbed when he first wrapped a hand around her finger!
"What a miracle!" she must have thought. In her case, it really was.
Belly Pic Week 36