Naming the Blessing as a Blessing: A Poem of Mary and Elizabeth

Was no one there to rub her back
when she got sick by the side of the road?
Poor child, that Mary,
fleeing the angel’s earth-shattering words to Elizabeth’s tranquil countryside.
Did her traveling companions pretend not to notice
her queasiness and sleepy eyes and swelling gut,
or did they whisper too loudly in her direction
with obvious glares of disdain?
One can only imagine.

How did she hold it all in –
the fear and questions and what if’s and well maybe’s
and the, how in the world will I tell Joseph,
and the, did the angel really mean The Son of God,
and the mantra of survival, on repeat, to convince herself…
I can do this.
I can do this.
I can do this.
I     can    do     this…

Did she get sick with fear when she saw the familiar home?
Did she regret this unplanned journey and think of turning back?
Did she fear that this one and only safe-haven wouldn’t be
safe after all? What then?
One can only imagine.

But from what I know of spiritual sisterhood, here’s what I imagine…
A courageous knock, bolder than she felt.
The waddling footsteps, heavy with child.
Mary’s wildly-beating heart and aching feet and sick stomach.
A look of surprise.  Elizabeth begins,
“Mary, what are you doing—”
Then widened eyes.  Her wrinkly hands cover her long-prayed-for belly and
the baby dancing with joy inside.

And then –
a kind, knowing, Holy Spirit smile –
so genuine that Mary wants to weep and sigh in relief and (finally!)
pour out her secretly burdened heart
and unravel the tangled mystery of angels and prophecies and theology
and (gulp)

But before she utters a word, the unexpected:
Mary, your blessing is greater than all.
Elizabeth names what Mary knows deep within…
knows, but won’t dare admit,
until she hears it named aloud
in this longed for, life-saving, life-giving
haven of safety.

This blessing is greater than all.
This blessing will save the world.
This blessing will come through me.

Her calling crystallizes and there she stands,
humbled, speechless,

Here’s what I imagine next:
Mary opens her mouth (because she has to say something),
But all she can do is sing.
Not of fears and what if’s and what next’s and how will I’s,
but of him.
Because none of that matters, not really, not now, not in light of him.
He who is but a tiny life within her,
though still – somehow – Larger than Life itself.

It makes me wonder
What would have become of that poor child, Mary,
had Elizabeth ignored
those inspired kicks within?
If she hadn’t offered the safe embrace of holy sisterhood?
If she hadn’t named the blessing as a blessing?
If she hadn’t looked deep into those searching eyes and said, you. can. do. this…?

What would have happened if Mary had no one to help
shoulder the load
of the blessing so great
that, (like many callings)
was too heavy to carry alone?

Thank goodness,
one can only imagine.


Mariotto Albertinelli, “Visitation”, 1503. Public Domain.

One thought on “Naming the Blessing as a Blessing: A Poem of Mary and Elizabeth

  1. You – you dear friend – are a gift to so many – especially to me. Your writing is inspired and inspiring. Thank you.


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