I forgot to introduce this piece! Mea Culpa.  I plan on posting five Advent reflections in the coming weeks, pieces I wrote where I imagined myself as: Mary, Joseph, a Shepherd, a Magi, and the animals. So this is the first one. Enjoy your Advent!

I was washing my father's clothes in the stream behind our house, rubbing gravel against the stained cloth. I sensed a great stillness behind me, like the hush before a storm. I turned, afraid, and heard quiet feet on the ground--unless it was wingbeats overhead. I turned further, setting the washing aside.

There he stood, though I did not know if it was a "he" or a "she"--tall, radiant, seemingly without bones, held up by the light which wrapped him round and emanated from him like starlight.

Perhaps this IS a star, I thought, rubbing my wet hands on my skirt. I did not dare stand in the face of that light which shimmered and blazed.

"Mary," he said, in a voice like a bell ringing. It set off a vibration in my chest.

Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.

I rocked back on my heels, heart pounding. The voice drew me upwards, though more than anything I wished to kneel.

Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.

His words held authority, and I was used to obeying, but the words rose inside:  How will this be since I am a virgin?

The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.

The words brought understanding. It would be as I had heard my father, Joachim, read from the Torah, about God moving over the face of the waters. Except I, Mary, would be that face; I, Mary, would be those waters which would bring forth life.

Afraid and suddenly mute, I struggled to speak, until the only words I could pull up from inside were, May it be done to me according to your word.  "Let it be," I whispered, or perhaps it was the wind which spoke.

From that moment on, everything changed. God was preparing me for a journey, something holy--me, Mary, small of stature, someone who lived from day to day; preparing lentils, saying prayers, helping my parents, and waiting to be married to Joseph, my betrothed.

What would he say about this? An instinct, like an animal wanting to go to ground, rose within.  But before I could flee, a voice of terrifying sweetness called, and the blue sky changed to a wave of shadow and light which engulfed me. When it passed--who knew how long I stood there?--I pressed one hand to my birthing place which was warm. God's finger had pressed me--there--but at the same time my body was pierced, and I cried out in pain. The voice came again, whispering, Mary--nothing is impossible.  And I knew it to be the truth.


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