Elizabeth’s diary

Elizabeth’s diary

Mary came to visit me today and I have been blessed. It has been so long since I have seen her, but when she pulled the veil down from her face, hung her robe and turned to greet me, instantly, I knew. I knew that she had heard it too and, at once, my heart, my soul, my entire being leapt in celebration.

For so long I have felt alone, harboring this secret joy in silence, and lately, I have been yearning, yearning for another with whom I might share this revealed wonder, ponder the mystery and the miracle of this life that grows within me. At times, the loneliness has seemed to border on despair, but all that I could do was light a candle and wait here with you, in the darkness of my house.

Oh god, Zechariah was so frightened, too frightened to believe, too frightened to speak!! We have lived by the rules of this world for so long that he simply could not understand how this could be possible. It breaks our manmade laws of life; it does not fit with what we have been taught to believe as truth. No wonder he was scared…of the mocking ridicule…. He likely would have been punished for speaking blasphemy, or at least ostracized from the church, or even locked away for lunacy!! …..since that day he heard your message in the temple, he has remained unable to speak, to even me. It is as if he is in prayer all day, listening, absorbing. I wish that he could share with me what is happening in his soul, but it seems he must remain silent for this while.

We have lived so long a life of obedience here. But, though I did everything the law required of me, never once breaking a commandment, inside I felt empty and barren. So often I wondered, ‘Isn’t there more to life than this? What kind of god creates life that has no more meaning than to pass some sort of test, or to make himself a hero to be idolized or a judge to be feared?’

But this was not the God I knew you to be inside my heart. When I finally began listening to that voice of love, your voice, inside of me, rather than the laws of the authorities, I learned what true obedience means. It is so simple really, “ob oedire”. It means “to listen to”.

It was then that I began to listen to your need, your call upon my life, and suddenly I could hear your presence everywhere. You didn’t need me to be perfect…you needed me to hear and to love…my neighbor and myself. You needed me to love you, wholly and completely, not in some blind allegiance to an ideal I could not see, but in all the ways that you appear, beautiful and ugly, here in this place, and here inside of me. You needed me to hear that something even so seemingly opposite from me, (like zechariah’s maleness to my femaleness) could also be you… yearning to be heard, to be understood and cherished. You needed me to embrace all of these diversities as You, so that the portion of your Love, which you had impregnated within me so long ago, at the very beginning of my being, could finally begin to grow and become flesh in this world. Oh God, You do not condemn me, You embrace me and You need me!!

Now my life has meaning, such fullness, where before there was barrenness, for I know that I am bearing you, nurturing you, somehow each moment in this place, that I have been created and sent to participate in this creation, in this growth, of Love. Yes, this growing here in love affects my own soul’s becoming but I also know it is all returned, absorbed, contributed to the whole, the Soul of You. I am a part of something much bigger than myself and sometimes that realization fills me with such awe. Now that I know that I am experiencing this life for you, for me, for us….my eyes, my ears, my touch are somehow blessed and somehow miracle….for I am bringing each moment back to you. Each moment is filled with precious wonder, for in each being I find you, I see you, I seek to understand and love you.

It has been five months since this miracle child began its growth in me. I know it has been necessary for me to nurture within the knowledge of this mystery, to let it grow somehow into wisdom, to become a part of me that I could trust was real. It is in a way the same as what Zechariah has been doing in his solitude. This pregnancy from you will seem an outrageous oddity to my people. They will likely mock me, too, and for this I must grow even stronger in my faith in your love for me, in my love and acceptance of myself. I must fully integrate this truth into my being. Thus, the silence and seclusion have been good, this time in solitude with you. I have learned to be quiet and to listen, to trust and to love.

I realize that I have also learned in my seclusion, that I do not need the trappings of my old social life of duty, the things that I believed were required of me if I were to be worthy or acceptable to you, and so, paradoxically, this very confinement has somehow set me free. I know that I do not have to fear the judgment of my people, or live up to their model of perfection in order to be embraced and loved by you, or more importantly by me. It has been a relief to simply be myself, to allow myself to grow into my self, to know that I am loved just as I am. Yet I also know that it will be hard for me to fit into my old world. (they will likely not even recognize the shape of me!!) I am not the same Elizabeth they knew or expect me to be. I have a new reason for being and a new identity (quite literally!)

And so lately, I have become aware of a deeper loneliness that strangely accompanies this sense of peace. It washes over me whene’re I take my thoughts off You and our connection to each other. I know my heart has been yearning to join with another, to share this new understanding and experience of being without judgment.

And so, when Mary came, and I saw the child also growing within her, oh god, it was like manna. To recognize in another’s face that they also have been reminded who they are, one pregnant with your presence, to find another who believes that God’s hope and promise is being accomplished within her, is to walk this life, which yesterday felt like desert, nourished by companionship and support. And now, we can be as midwives to each other, holding and encouraging, witnessing and affirming the presence of this emerging child, assuring one another of the birth when pain leads to self-doubt, or when we alone cannot see the beauty of the moment because of our perspective.

As I held her to my breast and whispered prayers of thanks, the comfort of her arms felt like your own, and I knew that you had favored me again with your presence.

Oh god, thank you.

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