KISSES: Joyful Mysteries
She had not seen her son in three days. She and her husband had been looking everywhere, trying hard not to let the worst images into their minds.
"His name's Yeshua. Dark hair, big eyes. Have you seen him?"
"There's a boy in the temple who's been talking with the priests the last two days. I haven't seen his parents."
"Thank-you," she said, and ran to the temple.
Sure enough, he was there, talking with the priests. She stopped for a moment, holding her husband's arm, and watched him. He looked older than he did just three days before. As he pointed at the scrolls, his brow furrowed, she realized something. He was not just asking questions, he was answering them. Somehow, her twelve year old boy had the look of an old man, vital and wise.
He looked up and caught her eye, and he smiled like a boy. She ran to him, tears welling and breaking.
"My God! We were worried sick! What were you thinking?!"
"I thought you knew I'd be here,” he says, confused, “in my Father's place."
She looked into those huge, innocent eyes, took these words, locked them deep in her heart, and covered him with kisses.
Her husband held her as she gave her son into the arms of the priest. The child was barely a month old. Fragile and small, wrapped in his blanket, he kept his eyes shut tight. A tiny mouth opened wide in a big yawn, and he blinked his eyes open from his deep sleep. Tiny fists stretched out as his eyes stared at the stranger, with the kind of serious look that only an infant can give. This day he was to be dedicated to God.
The old man held the newborn. He began to speak the words of dedication, but his voice broke. There was silence for a long moment, and then he said something unexpected.
"Look at him." His beard shook with his quivering lip. "This little boy is destined for the rise of many in Israel. Destined to be a sign that is opposed.” He looked deeply into the Mother's eyes. "And a sword will pierce your soul too, so that the secret thoughts of many will be laid bare."
"A sword will pierce your soul."
These words did not surprise her. She looked at this tiny boy. Such depth of joy could not come unaccompanied by a measure of grief.
She pressed her lips to her son's infant brow, and whispered.
"Let it be done as You have said."
The shepherds had left hours ago. It was 3 o'clock in the morning, and she was exhausted. She would still be sleeping, but some lowing cattle had awakened her. Her husband Joseph had made a bed of straw, covering it with a blanket. Somehow, in his embrace, it was comfortable. He slept beside her, snoring just a little.
She rubbed her eyes and lifted her head to check on the baby. There he was, a swaddling bundle, sleeping comfortably in a feeding trough. She remembered what she had been told about this little boy, and how it was repeated by the dirty old shepherds.
She laughed silently at the thought of these men running through town, ranting about her little baby, but as she looked upon this little boy, the depth their proclamation rose from her heart and crept into the corners of her eyes.
Placing her fingers softly on his cheek, she echoed a proclamation:
"Glory to God in the highest. Peace to those on whom his favour rests," she whispered, and kissed the Christ's tiny head.
Elizabeth sat alone as she gently ran her hands over her belly. Her son was resting within her.
Over the years, she had been told many times that it was impossible for her to bear a child. Her husband held her in her tears over a miscarriage more than once. Now, being well past a child-bearing age, she had resigned herself to a life prone to loneliness.
That is, until her husband came home from the temple unable to speak, crying and laughing and kissing her everywhere. Since that day, the impossible seemed to be a laughing matter. When she heard that her cousin Mary, so young and so pure, was to have a son, and that no Man was the father, she did not disbelieve the girl.
Now, six months later, Mary stood at her door, beaming. "Elizabeth!"
The young girl's greeting was like music, and Elizabeth felt her unlikely baby dance inside her. "Oh!" she cried as she ran to greet her. "Blessed are you among women! And blessed is the fruit of your womb!"
Old Elizabeth kissed little Mary's cheeks. Laughing and crying, they did what was only fitting when two such impossibilities meet. They sang.
She sat beneath a blossoming almond tree as the wind blew its soft, white petals all around her. She loved to do this, she once told her mother, because it felt like God was giving her kisses.
Tomorrow would be her fifteenth birthday, though it never seemed that any age quite fit her. There was always something both very young and very old about her. Her mother had long noticed it. Her daughter never merely walked through a day. She took things in, as a child may take them in, eyes wide. But then she seemed to ponder them, too, like a wise old woman.
She lay almost sleeping, her thoughts nested around the almond tree, its falling blossoms caressing her cheeks. This is a good place to rest, she thought, and she began to feel as though she were in the presence of Love Itself. And so, when she opened her eyes to see an angel, she was not alarmed. She was only alarmed at his greeting.
"Hello, Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with you."
She drew a breath. Humility accepts praise with caution.
"Don't be afraid, Mary," said the angel, who seemed to be made of light and almond blossoms. His voice was like a song, and he smiled as he spoke. "You are going to have a son, and you will name him Jesus."
The song pierced her soul. "He will be called Great...” he continued, and he used words such as “Son of the Most High God” and “King” about this boy she was to have.
Mary spoke. "But... I... I'm a virgin. How can this be?"
He smiled again. "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and God's power will rest upon you... For there is nothing God cannot do." He stopped speaking, and he seemed to be waiting for a reply. Good News is never presumptuous.
In the stillness, she could feel her fifteen-year-old heart beating within her. "I am the Lord's servant," she finally answered. "May it be done as you have said."
It seemed the angel bowed in courtesy as he left her, and she was left with the sent of the tree she had sat under that day. There was no one in the room now, except Love. She took a deep breath. Love came, and covered her with a kiss.