From the earliest days of my conversion in the 1990s, biblical stories have touched my heart in a unique way. This re-imagining, told through a modern lens, was inspired by Luke 1.
7th of Nissan
Yay! Yay! Yay! The first day of spring, and what a day! It was one of those amazing, magical days where you can just feel God (and see him and smell him and taste him…).
The rain this morning -- and I saw a rainbow -- both ends! -- and I plucked a fig right off the tree on my way back from doing the wash. It tasted so sweet I wanted to keep it in my mouth forever. There is so much newness in the air. So much birth and hope and life, life, life.
I had a pretty intense thought earlier. I don’t know if I can get it down here. I was so filled with thanks and joy for all the magic of spring that I wanted SO much to be filled with it, to experience it inside the way I see it going on around me, all over the outside. Does that make any sense? It just felt like I wanted to thank God so much for all of this beauty. I made this kind of spontaneous prayer that I could be part of it in some loving, feeling, being way. I don’t know what I’m saying. Maybe that fig was a little too sweet! I’m getting carried away.
11th of Nissan
Whoa. OK, Mariam, take a deep breath. I think something really big just happened. Oh God, is it true?
I can’t explain how I know what I know but you know when you just Know?
I’m going to have a baby.
I mean part of me says that this is impossible -- everyone knows that women have babies only after they lie with their husbands. And I haven’t even been wed to Joseph yet much less been under the same roof with him! But I felt it today.
Remember when I was six and I saw those chicks hatch? Come to think of it I think that’s the first time I felt God. It was this little topsy turvy feeling in my stomach when I saw them poke their little yellow heads out. Momma and Papa still talk about how they didn’t know if I was laughing or crying, and how I just started twirling around saying, “life! life! Life!” Well today when I was outside watching the sunset (and thank you God for that sunset! Pink and purple and some color I bet there isn’t even a name for yet), I felt something like that again. Only this time it was deeper and realer, and it felt like those eggs were hatching inside me. And I just knew. I was going to get my wish -- spring was happening in me! And then I almost instantly thought: How can this be, seeing I know not a man? And almost before my head could finish asking it, my heart had the answer: With God all things are possible.
And besides, stranger things have happened. I heard Momma telling Esther that cousin Elizabeth is going to have a baby and she’s thirty-seven with no children!
Oh, man. I don’t even know if I’m excited or scared.
God: Whatever this is, I just want you to know: my answer is YES.
4th of Lyar
I had a weird thought today. What if what is happening to me, the way I feel God moving in my life is like the way he “spoke” to people like Jacob and Moses and Job. Oh no, I hope I don’t get struck down for even having the audacity to think such a thing. I mean I’m not saying I’m the next Moses or anything. And I don’t think having a baby is as big a deal as the burning bush or anything. And of course I’m a sixteen year old girl (woman?), not a rabbi! But when I hear those stories I always picture God talking in this booming voice on a mountain and just today it occurred to me that maybe those people in the Torah “heard” God in all sorts of ways! It’s not that I think I’m super-human, but I just realized for the first time that the ancestors of our faith weren’t necessarily super-human either.
The little “chick” is definitely growing. It is the most miraculous, wonderful feeling. Every eveing I (we?) have been watching the sunset and feeling the mystery of it all. It’s like I have this delicious secret with God.
17th of Sivan
Whoa. I am officially freaking out! What was I thinking to pray for such a nightmare??!! My “delicious secret” is not going to be secret forever. Ben made some crack today that I look like I’ve been eating more than my share of halvah. How could I not have thought of the consequences before? Getting a baby before I am wed? Joesph will think I...I can’t even write it. I am blushing to even think what he will think. He will reject me. I can’t bring this kind of shame on my family! What will Papa do? I’ll be on my own. How will I live? And my baby, how will we survive...?
Oh Lord, Oh Lord, please please please. Send me whatever I need to get through this. I can’t see any way out. Please don’t leave me. Please don’t desert me and my baby.
29th of Sivan
Well, I’ve just finished packing. I’m off to visit Cousin Elizabeth. I told Momma that I wanted to help her during her time of need. Thank you God for making Papa say yes I could go!
I am praying that my instinct is right. I am going to tell Elizabeth about the “chick.” I feel a kinship with her -- she must be a woman of tremendous faith to be birthing so late in life. And I remember Zachariah from Ben’s briss -- I thought he was the gentlest man I had ever met.
Oh God, please let me find your love in their hospitality. And let me be your handmaid in my service to them.
Chicks Hatching photo by USDA, Wikimedia Commons