In the beginning…an Advent Meditation.
In the beginning…God created. That always makes me smile – the thought of God creating…making a fuss, causing a stir – like God is a little boy with smooth slim little legs that run and twirl and climb – or even kick and stamp – God created this world.
Of course it got broke, almost straight away. Traditionally we have blamed the girls for their inquisitiveness but I’d like to think that was a boy thing – breaking stuff – my brother did it all the time – even Tonka toys and tuff shoes – he broke everything – but my brother is not God; and God is not a boy.
Yet somehow I think, God is a boy. I say that lightly and I do mean it and yet its not quite true. God is a boy, a boy who likes playing with mud, building and squashing, building and squashing. Flattening it all into mudpats before starting again. If that sounds sacriliegious, its not meant to. I rather admire the fire and energy of little boys and without a doubt its God given; I’m beginning to realise that its the only way of making sense of a very odd experience i had about 9 months before Joshua was born.
It had been windy, and I was sweeping up the mess of leaves and litter in the yard when a stranger opened the gate. My first reaction was curiosity – I’d never seen him before. We do get strangers here but they dont often approach women on their own. I didn’t feel unsafe – it wasnt anything like that but I did wonder who he was. He had an air about him – otherworldly I think you might say…. He said he had a message from my father at first – but it was a bit of an odd message. Something about me not worrying about a baby? I told him he’d got the wrong house – I wasn’t having a baby – but, get this, he asked me if I would like one.
‘Well yes’, I said. but not know and only with my Joseph and only with the Lord’s blessing, when I was old enough. He laughed then…and said ‘dont worry about it Mariam. All in God’s time. You will call him Joshua… one who saves….won’t you. Because he will and you will. And then he thanked me. Shut the gate and left.
I didn’t think any more about it at first. But it must have niggled away at me because I found myself thinking about this baby – the one that I wasn’t having – more and more. and i’d swear all the thinking was making me fat! It was odd – the more I thought about it – the more real it became. So real that other people began to notice – so real that my mother took me on one side.
That night was awful – she wanted to know -like – well – you know…..’had we’
I told her. ‘We havent done anything’. ‘ I’m not yet a woman.’ and ‘ anyway, When could we? We were never alone together. ‘
I dont think she believed me. When I told her about the man at the gate her eyes narrowed. ‘Did you know him?’ she said. shaking me by the shoulders.
‘I did not’ I said. “I did not”. Her idea of knowing was of a different kind to mine.
Things happened rather quicky after that. I cant imagine what Joseph thought. We had been engaged for ages – he was older than me – a friend of my family – and he didn’t seem in a hurry, but suddenly even he appeared keen to make it official. In the end it was all a bit of a mess. Once the census was announced we ended up having to go to his granddad’s place to be counted I don’t really know why I had to go, but he said I had to. Knowing Joseph though it was probably something to do with the baby being able to play cricket for for Nazareth when he grew up!
Because that was the odd thing – there was a baby and it was growing inside of me. Of me! I still can’t believe it really. I don’t think Joseph can either – he gives me odd look sometimes as if he doesn’t quite know me.
I dont know if Joshua came at the right time. I just got this awful awful pain and then suddenly I was soaked – wet through. Up to that point we were struggling to find somewhere to stay but once Joseph realised he persuaded someone to take us in.
God – it hurt. One woman from the house helped – told me to squat whilst another one held me up. My legs shook, the older woman drew a tiny head from my body, dark and smeared with blood, and then out slithered the rest. He was so small but I felt I’d given birth to the world. That I was the universe turned inside out…. and i learned an important thing that day… My body may have nurtured that life – and I’m still not quite sure how it got in me – but it was that life that created me. That life that gave me life. Because he is… I am. Mariam, His mother. And something in me let go that night. And that’s how I know about boys….how they create and destroy.
It says somewhere, in the book of Ecclesiastes… a time to build up and a time to tear down. ha…A time to be born and a time to die…. That’s him all right. Yes, whoever wrote that was right…. there’s nothing new under the sun. little boys are little boys… God knows! Yahewh, Joshua – Jeshua – Jesus …… it means ‘one who saves….’ We did as the Angel said and named him thus. and in a funny way he is and he does. And I’ve learned that being saved, means dying to one way of being in order to inhabit another. Being his mother has been the most awe inspiring, terrifying, wonderful experience of my life. Sometimes, when I’m alone in the dark of the night, usually when he has given me the run around, or nearly fallen into the fire, or got himself scraped and scratched from falling over in thorns thorns, – when i’m frightened for him – I imagine all the mothers of the world – united – in one huge enormous scream, crying out for the safety of their children. Its enough to knock the world off its axis. And then I have to get up and go over to him, and stroke his lovely little tear stained face – and and whisper to myself… – all will be well. and all will be welll….and all manner of things will be well -Yahweh. Joshua. Jesuha. Jesus.
Go to sleep now close your eyes, smiles await you when you rise, sleep my darling don’t you cry Your mother sings a lullaby.
Copyright: Karen Marshall