Now I have no intention of turning this into a superspiritual "I've got all the answers" type of blog, cos, well, for a start, I certainly don't have all the answers, and there's nothing worse than pretending that you do, if you don't.
(Brief sidenote, I think doing better and getting there with my recovery from swine flu, however, I'm also aware that it seems to have brought out the rambling 'write extra long sentences' side of me. So if you find yourself losing the plot of what I'm trying to say, it's probably because I've gone off on a ramble rather than any fault on the your part).
Anyway, what I am trying to share with you all is some of the thoughts I had on Thursday night when M and I were reading the beginning of the gospel of Luke. The gospel starts off with Luke explaining why he wrote it. I know I've read that before, but it struck me again what a logical person Luke was. He set out to write the book in a way that was logical, that followed through and didn't jump about, and I really like that. It's the way that I try to be when I'm writing. Ok, so with all this ramble it can be hard to see that, but I do generally have a rough idea of where I'm headed and the logic behind it. Honest! Although actually, I wasn't going to write that paragraph about Luke, it just happened, so maybe I've still got a thing or two to learn from Luke.
Next Luke writes about Elizabeth and Zechariah, the parents of John the Baptist. M and I also discussed quite a bit about John the Baptist, and what he was like, and how he got his following, and things like that, but again, I'm not intending to stop and talk about him for long either. (See the title of this post, and you'll hopefully see where I'm trying to go).
Thirdly, Luke writes about Mary. Now, the funny thing is that we didn't actually read this bit, or not to start with. We read up until about verse 25, and it's in the next verse that it starts talking about Mary. However, we have a slight advantage, since we know how the story goes, and I admit I'm the sort of reader whose eyes slight further down the page to take a peek at what's coming next. Hm, I'm rambling, let's start a new paragraph.
Verse 26 starts with telling us that the following events (Mary being visited by an angel) took place in the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, and I thought "hey, that's like me". We started talking about what it would have been like to be pregnant back then, and boy was it different. (I've just been thinking on that even more as I type, and there are more differences than I can even begin to list, but I'm trying hard not to get distracted).
At first I was thinking that Elizabeth went to visit Mary, and was sympathising at what that must have been like, after all the roads weren't necessarily very good, so it meant travelling by foot or donkey, or something similar, and judging by how tired I've been recently (swine flu aside) it would have tough. Then I realised that I'd actually misread, and that Mary was the one to visit Elizabeth, and that seemed fairer. Until I thought back on my first days of pregnancy, the ones filled with constant nausea and so much tiredness. In the early days of my pregnancy and new job I used to come home from work and go to sleep, my parents would wake me for dinner, and then I'd go back to bed. Choosing to travel anywhere would not have been on the top of my priority list.
Actually, I did travel to Cambridge for the day with my Mum early on in the pregnancy, and I can still remember now quite how dreadful I felt. We stopped halfway there (halfway through a one hour journey!) because I thought I would be sick, and when we actually arrived in Cambridge I was horribly and terribly sick. To cut a long thought short, travelling at the stage of my pregnancy was not fun, and I can't imagine it was much fun for Mary, however long the actually journey was for her.
And then, fast forward towards the end of Mary's pregnancy. Again, we were cheating a little, cos this doesn't happen until chapter two, but it was just a natural continuation of our discussion. Mary has to go with Joseph to Bethlehem to take part in a giant census of the Roman Empire. Now, looking at my life again for a second, I know that M and I decided we'd be decline the invitation to one of the weddings we were meant to be going to this summer, because it's so far away and would mean a lot of travelling. And that would only have been when I was 7 months pregnant, and was really only a few hours either way in a car. It could have been do-able if we'd really tried, we just decided we needed to be sensible (given that the following two weekends after that we have family weddings to attend).
I can imagine that if I were Mary, and my pregnancy was getting on a bit I would have begged Joseph to let me stay at home, while he filled in the census for me. Ok, so I'm a bit shaky on whether that would have actually been possible, but still, I'd have given it a go. (As my friend Danielle is often reminding me, there's only so long you can actually use the excuse "I'm pregnant", so you have to make the most of it!). But no, there's no mention of any sort of moaning or discontent from Mary, she just gets on her donkey, and off they go.
Mary amazes me, through all stages of her pregnancy we see her happy and rejoicing, willing to do as God asks her. Ok, so we don't get to read her pregnancy diary, but Luke still paints a pretty good picture of her. (And he was a doctor, so presumably had an inkling into what it would be like for a woman who was pregnant at that time). As M pointed out, think of all those pregnancy hormones raging through her body. I think M is just about getting used to me and my tears, tears which can fall that the slightest provocation, but I'm sure I don't always make it easy for him to live with me. I get fed up with all my crying sometimes, and I know he does.
But Mary faithfully followed God's plan for her. By travelling to Bethlehem and giving birth there, Jesus' birth was fulfilling prophecies made about it years beforehand. I wonder how much of that she realised at the time, or whether it was more of a blind faith. These are questions I guess I'll never know the answer to, or at least not on this earth, but this I do know, my present circumstances have given me a little more insight into Mary's life, and also a lot more respect for her, and the role she played in giving birth to, and raising Jesus. Here's to Mary.