A young woman set out on a long journey. She rode a donkey. She was great with child. Her companion watched over her and tried to find her a place to rest. To no avail. They ended up in a barn at the appointed time. She labored. She pushed. She cried. She wailed. The baby was born and hope for the world was revealed. She only knew what the angel had told her. She didn’t know there would soon be shepherds and kings. She didn’t know how this whole thing was to work. She only had the word hidden in her heart where she pondered it.
I’d love to sit with Mary one day and listen to her birth story. I cannot imagine doing what she did. I’d listen intently, and laugh when she did. I am sure looking back on it, there would be many places for laughter. Maybe a sheep got in the way. Or maybe she fussed at Joseph to ‘just find a place already.’ Then the intensity of labor and the fear which is hidden, but always nearby during labor. The uncertainty and wondering if she could actually do it…be the mother of God. The phrase ‘she pondered these things in her heart,’ sounds so noble, so self-assured. However, I think it means she held it all in and wondered how in the world will this all happen? I think she probably wondered if she heard correctly and had moments where she thought it was all in her head. She was a teenager after all.
I always think of Mary on this day, Peter’s birthday. It is the day I birthed my last child and it is so close to our celebration of hers that I feel a kind of kindred-ness with her. There are many differences. I rode in a car, not on a donkey. I went to a hospital, not a stable. I had a medical team, she had livestock. However, we both had transition. We both had a supportive partner. We both cried out to God. I think it is beautiful how he used a woman to reveal himself, and uses us still, to birth life into the world.
In the midst of the birthing process and pain, it feels holy. Sacred. Miraculous. Somehow outside of myself, bigger than me. Yet, the process couldn’t happen without my body involved. I am important. My body is important. Who I am is important. I’m not sure how the enemy talks us into believing otherwise, but women should know God places great value on us. His life and love flow through us, and that is worth celebrating.
Today I celebrate not only that, but also my baby boy, who is no longer a baby. His birth began during a Christmas light show, in the hay, in the back of a truck and ended in the delivery room surrounded by love. It was holy, sacred, and miraculous, as is every birth. Especially an 11 lb. one. Every year, I remember. Every year, I am more in awe of my son. Every year, I am a proud mama. Happy birthday, Peter.