Saturday, December 22, 2012

Jesse Tree Day 22 - Elizabeth

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord. -- Luke 1:39-45

What do you do when you're in a real pickle and aren't sure what to do?  You go look for someone to give you some advice, some counsel, even just some love and/or a shoulder.  That is what Mary did, and the person she looked to was Elizabeth, her kinswoman.  That Elizabeth was also pregnant when she shouldn't have been (miracles like that happen now and then in the Bible) was probably a comfort, not to mention Elizabeth's living somewhere besides Mary's home town. Mary was probably a comfort to Elizabeth as well, being younger and probably stronger, she could take care of some of the things that were becoming difficult for Elizabeth to do, and sharing aches, pains, morning sickness and the usual stuff that goes on during pregnancy was undoubtedly a topic of frequent conversation. Still, having two pregnant women in the house was probably a bit of a strain for Zechariah. At least he had his rotational duties at the temple to keep him out of the house periodically.

There are some times when a woman needs another woman around, times when, whether one has a mother or not and whatever the relationship between mother and daughter is, there is a need for another woman to talk to, to receive advice from and just to share things with that can't be shared with just anyone. Guys have man talks, guy time in "man caves," times when friends get together and talk football or auto racing, the upcoming fishing trip or bowling tournament (or even the incomprehensibility of women). Women do the same thing with their friends, only the subject matter is more in the lines of household duties, pregnancy and child care. Each group has its own language and own conversational rituals; it's as normal as can be, and sometimes as incomprehensible to the other gender as if they were in foreign languages. Elizabeth and Mary might have been kin, but their common situation -- pregnancy-- gave them an extra dimension of relationship, that of sisters.  Mary's mother could have understood what being pregnant could feel like, but she couldn't have understood the very nature of Mary's pregnancy, being as miraculous as it was. Elizabeth could as hers was miraculous as well.

I've had lots of times in my life when I could have used an Elizabeth and many more times when I have had friends who acted much as Elizabeth did. They listened to my adolescent (and sometimes adult) problems, fears and general babble, weighed what I said and often advanced some very wise advice.  As I get older, I appreciate more and more the role of Elizabeth, the listener, the advisor, the sage, and find myself more and more willing and able to follow in her footsteps. No, I'm not expecting to get pregnant (been there, done that, no desire to repeat the performance, especially at this stage of my life!), but I find joy in listening to younger friends, offering what support I can, and just providing an ear or a shoulder when needed. I still have older friends I talk to and ask for advice, but I'm growing into the role they have filled and seeing how good it can be.

So what can I learn from Elizabeth?  Perhaps it is to be available to others in need of advice, perhaps just to listen more and better. Perhaps another lesson is to look for the miraculous and be attuned to it when I meet it in my life. Undoubtedly it is to never think a miracle couldn't happen to me, no matter how old I am or how impossible it seems.

Be open to the miraculous.

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