Today begins the Advent season. In honor of that (and to make things easier for me), the blogs this month will be excerpts from the first book in a series I wrote.
The series is called REFLECTIONS. It features three books written in first person: one from Mary of Nazareth, one from Martha, and the final one from her sister, Mary of Bethany. You can check them out here.
This excerpt from A Pondering Heart relates a portion of a familiar event in Mary’s life. I started the book with this because it is truly the turning point for her, and the first time we’re introduced to her in scripture.
From Chapter One:
I pulled the jar of fresh milk from the cool room. Amazing how a single hour in the dark space dropped the temperature. I carried it in the crook of my elbow.
When I left the cave, a draft pushed the scents of goat, manure, and moldering straw away from me. I didn’t mind the smell of the goats, but fresh morning air always relaxed me. My shoulders sagged, and I trudged away from the cliffs, never too anxious to return to Anna’s domain.
As I rounded the bend, I glanced up at the dusty track leading to the house. What I saw froze me in place.
A most unusual man blocked the path. His white flowing robe reflected the sunlight. Golden-white hair haloed his sharp, pale features, which sparkled with iridescence. Eyes the color of the sky, seeming illumined from within, pierced me as easily as a sharp knife.
“Hail, thou that art highly favored.” His voice shook the ground. Or maybe that was just my legs trembling.
My heart thumped against my ribs, and my breath gurgled in my throat. I clenched the pot, unwilling to let my morning’s work fall prey to my terror.
“The Lord is with thee,” the man continued. “Blessed art thou among women.”
My mind spun, waking, at the strange greeting, from the paralysis his musical voice caused. How was a farmer’s daughter highly favored? Certainly the dung caking the soles of my sandals sang a different tune. Who was this man to assure me of my relationship with Jehovah? Yes, I prayed each morning and night, as Father had taught us all, but how could this one know that?
Most disturbing was the final part of his greeting. Only one woman would be considered blessed among the daughters of Eve and Sarah. I was not that woman. I was just a girl.
“Fear not, Mary.” He extended a pale hand toward me. “For thou hast found favor with God.”
Was this a heavenly messenger? I loved Jehovah as much as any of my friends, but why would the Almighty give honor to a girl like me? A haze of unreality veiled my mind.
“And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.”
Now I knew the messenger had the wrong house. I couldn’t have a baby, because I didn’t have a husband. Yet. Was he accusing me of being intimate with a man? My face flushed.
“He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David.” I admit I gasped at this. “And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” My stomach dropped to my feet, and my arm lost all strength, sending the clay pot plummeting to the earth.