All the long years of pitying glances rolled away in the glory of this conception. There was an absolute rightness in it. The angel appearing in the holy Temple, in the right place, and at the sacred time. The promise of the holiness of the child.
God had indeed remembered his promises, his old ways of working. I dreamed of a future for this child. He would restore the ancient purity of ways, the law strictly observed, and Israel called back to the true pure path. The comparison which I could not help making was between my husband and myself and the greatest of all our ancestors, Abraham and Sarah. We had always tried so hard to live holy lives, Zechariah and I – and now we were to be rewarded. And yes, Zechariah had, to some degree made a bit of a mess of it, but he had surely be forgiven, or my belly would not have been swelling with a baby.
Conceived like this, my child would surely be – well, he HAD to be the long awaited Messiah, didn’t he? As great and greater than Elijah, Moses, Isaac, Israel himself.
So great was my joy that I was generous when word reached me that my young cousin Mary was – well, that she had- well, Mary came to stay for a little.
She stood in the doorway. My heart seemed to stop still. My baby leapt in me like a fish breaking water. Every certainty stood on its head. Purity was swallowed in love. Repentance was engulfed by forgiveness. The reward of virtue went down before the glory of self offering. What I was, what my child was, that too went down. Now, what had been first would be last. And she, who by rights would have been last, she was the first. Impurity had become healing, rebirth.
My child? What could I and he do but spread ourselves out in the service of she and hers.
‘Who am I to see the mother of my Master?’ I cried. Every certainty was lost in a huge hope.