Every year the stores put out their Christmas decorations early. Y’all, I have no candy for Halloween and no concepts for costumes. In fact, I think I just filled out the last of a legion of “Back to School” forms. Such preemptive action in the commercial world is encouraging me to prepare liturgically.
I woke up this morning thinking about Mary and Elizabeth’s friendship, specifically, and the friendships of women, generally.
You know the urge to call or text your sister or your tribe when you have news, whether weighty or wonderful. You have heard the laughter of two women sitting at a coffee shop reconnecting and remembering. You have seen women hugging, attempting to hold each other up under unthinkable loss. God made many mighty and beautiful things, but few can compete with the transformative power of human friendship.
As astounding as Mary’s visit with the angelic herald must have been, I found myself more moved today imagining her subsequent visits with Elizabeth.
As soon as she could, Mary ran for the hills, quite literally the hills of Hebron, to tell Elizabeth the news. She knew to whom she could safely carry the news that she was carrying a child! I am certain that as she traveled, both anticipation and nervousness grew. She had plenty of time to think about Elizabeth’s potential responses. How would she receive such strange news? Would the fullness of Mary’s cheeks and chest serve only as a reminder of Elizabeth’s long-empty womb?
Imagine their shock upon greeting one another, each brimming with life and an unlikely story to share, each eager to find a resting place for their fears, hopes, and insecurities. It was probably a good thing that Zachariah couldn’t speak, because he probably wouldn’t have gotten a word in anyway!
But as I imagined the joy, I also could not help but imagine their shared sorrow. While we don’t know how long Elizabeth lived, it is possible that both women bore and buried promised sons who died painful deaths.
Imagining these two women sharing their burdens together, laughing and wondering at the interwoven stories God was writing left me thankful for God’s gracious gift of ordinary friendships. It is no small thing to have a safe place to know and be known in a largely anonymous world.
Two Women, Four Hearts
Two women, four hearts.
A pair of promised sons.
Crying in fits and starts.
“Mary, A miraculous child so young?”
“And you, a miraculous child so late?”
Immanuel from Heaven flung?
A son after so long a wait?
Interwoven stories, intermingled tears.
Kinship coupled with kindred souls.
Angelic messengers, human fears.
Different women, similar roles.
Poised to magnify the other’s joy,
Both destined for terrible pain;
Each would be bereft of a boy;
Their losses spent for our gain.
Two women walking side by side,
Multiplying joy, dividing sorrow.
Comforting places to confide,
As we move toward the morrow.
I bet Mary and Elizabeth smile from heaven every time they see women walking alongside one another, pointing one another back to the hope their sons gave their lives towards.