A Mother’s Tale
Copyright Karen Hopkins
I had a visitor last night. An angel named Gavriel, (Gabriel). I’ve always trusted in G-d’s mercies. I ‘ve always believed G-d hears and answers my prayers. I believed He has a purpose for me, but this? This was beyond anything I imagined, beyond anything ever felt or known. I can hardly speak; I whisper these words even to myself.
“G-d has chosen me to be the mother of HaMashiach, our messiah.” I need time to understand what is occuring. There is no one I can talk to about this. Who could comprehend the things I have seen and heard? Who would listen? What lies ahead?
I have decided to go away for awhile. I am not ready to talk to my parents, or to Yosef, (Joseph). Maybe my cousin Elisheva (Elizabeth) will let me visit for a time. She is much older than I. I think she’s older than my mother, but she is a woman of understanding. When I think of sharing this news, she’s the one person I know I can talk to.
Elisheva (Elizabeth) met me on the road before I’d gotten to her house. And she knew immediately! What a relief. We stood and cried together. What joy to be able to talk with her about everything that has happened; to ask advice, to plan for what’s coming. And Elisheva (Elizabeth) had a surprise of her own. She’s expecting. And her baby is an unexpected blessing!
Three months have passed. The time here with Elisheva and Z’karyah (Zechariah) has been heavenly. When Elisheva (Elizabeth) and I work together; time flies by. Z’kharyah (Zechariah) reads the words of the Torah and of the prophets with such understanding; there is so much we need to know. I have many things to do, many things to learn. But Elisheva’s (Elizabeth’s) baby is coming soon and it is time for me to return home. I have my own preparations to make. I wonder what Yosef (Joseph) will say. I hope he can understand.
When Yosef (Joseph) saw me the smile froze on his face. I’m not even halfway through this pregnancy, but before I could say a word he turned and walked away. I called after him,
“Pray about this Yosef; (Joseph) it is not as it appears.”
What did I expect? How else could he react?
My mother accepted all I told her, but she treats me as if I’m made of glass. How I wish these people I love could have Elisheva’s (Elizabeth’s) discernment. But if this is what being chosen means, so be it. If only they could share the joy I feel, instead of passing their confusion into my heart.
Yosef (Joseph) came to the house today and asked me to go walking with him. He has changed. His face radiated happiness. He told me of the struggles he’d had, that he had planned to have me put away. And then as he prayed an angel came to him explaining that this child is the son of G-d. As his shame and doubt fell away; Yosef (Joseph) was filled with joy. We are to be married immediately. I thank G-d for this good man who will stand with me through the days to come.
I notice the other women looking and whispering when I go to draw water. I should have expected as much. All they know is that Yosef and I married suddenly and that I am now very pronounced with child. Is there anything I could say that would make a difference? We know the truth, and G-d knows, so I smile and nod as if I don’t see the stares or hear the gossip. Rachel was so bold as to come up to me and say,
“I knew it. As soon as you and Yosef (Joseph) wed, I knew why.” She leered at me, but I smiled and looked at my belly before I replied,
“Every baby is a blessing, Rachel. Is it not so? And this baby is a very special blessing.” It was all I could say.
There is to be a census taken. Yosef (Joseph) and I are both of the House of David and we must travel to Beit-Lechem (Bethlehem) and register. I am very close to my time. Yosef suggested that I stay behind; the trip might be difficult for me and the baby, but I felt that I should go. We read the words of Mikha the prophet together last night,
But you, Beit-Lechem near Efrat,
so small among the clans of Y’hudah,
out of you will come forth to me
the future ruler of Isra’el,
whose origins are far in the past,
back in ancient times.” (Mikha 5:2)
Yosef (Joseph) said Mikha was talking about my son, and that he should be born in
Beit-Lechem, (Bethlehem). We agreed to sojourn together; we prepared for this baby to be born in Beit-Lechem, in the city of David. My time is drawing near. I will be a mother soon. What a responsibility G-d has given me. I pray daily for strength and guidance. And Yosef is one of the answers to my prayers. I wonder if our people will remember the birth of my son as we now remember the birth of David.
Oh, little Beit-Lechem, (Bethlehem), you will be twice blessed!
I am so tired. We must have walked thirty leagues or more, but we’re finally in Beit-Lechem, (Bethlehem). The city is packed of course, and we don’t have enough money to rent a house or even a room—as if there were any available. We don’t know anyone here. We have walked from one end of town to the other. Yosef (Joseph) is talking to the owner of a traveler’s inn. It seems pretty rough. The owner is pointing to the stable in the central courtyard and Yosef (Joseph) is shaking his head. My back aches and I am tired. I need to rest even if it is on the hay beside the animals.
Finally, we are in a stable, a cave, out behind the inn. The owner took pity on us. I’m glad the animals are here. They provide some warmth. What a night this has been. The limestone walls seem to glow. And why wouldn’t they on this night of all nights?
I knew my labor was beginning the moment I sat down, and I really wished my mother were here to advise me, to hold my hand and tell me I would get through it. But very soon I quit wishing for what could not be and concentrated on what was happening. Yosef did his best to help me. He has attended animal births. It isn’t quite the same, but the baby came, and I can’t stop smiling. I have a son, a tiny beautiful son!
“The son of G-d,” I whisper, and here he is in the flesh. We washed him and I wrapped him in the swaddling clothes I’d embroidered so carefully for this very moment. I never imagined his birth would be like this, in this place with only my husband in attendance. But now that he is here, his birth was perfect.
Yes, He is perfect. Perfect indeed. I never imagined I could feel such joy, such peace, such contentment. It seems as though the universe is alive tonight. Is it just me, or is there music in the heavens?
Time has passed. So much has happened. Yeshua is fifteen, our oldest son. Yosef (Joseph) passed away last winter. He whispered to me to rely on G-d. Perhaps Yosef (Joseph) now has His ear. Yosef’s health began to fail shortly after our trip to the temple in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) for the Passover, the year that Yeshua stayed behind and nearly scared us to death. It was a timely reminder; he is more than my son. I knew, but still I needed the reminder. He is learning, beginning to understand his calling, his mission if you will, in life. But at this point much of the carpentry work falls to him. All that he does he does in the name of his Father. Yosef (Joseph) taught him well. Oh, I miss Yosef. What adventures we had. I never could have imagined how life would unfold starting with Yeshua’s birth. I remember the shepherds who came to us that first night when all I wanted to do was sleep; Yeshua glowed in the reflected light off the limestone. We stayed on in Beit-Lechem (Bethlehem) during niddah, the forty-day purification period following childbirth. Later men from the East came, bringing gifts for my son. Those gifts were a blessing. I remember Egypt and coming back to Natzeret, (Nazareth). Whenever we were in need G-d provided us with the way; we are in His hands.
But now my dreams have turned to nightmares. How could this have happened? Help me Father, I am broken, broken. Let me die now. Why have you taken him, my firstborn son? Did you not see how he suffered? Take me; I do not want to live.
Father; I did not understand. Forgive me. I weep, but now my tears are tears of joy. Never did I imagine such pain, such sorrow, and such joy. My son lives. Father, he lives. You allowed our son to be taken, to be lifted up, to die on the stake for the benefit of all humanity. Now, I see. Truly our HaMoshiach lives and we too will live. I walked with him; I’ll walk with Him again. Glory be unto thee; my work is finished.
Great are your works my L-rd! All glory be unto Adonai. I shall spend my days in singing praises. Your humble handmaiden is content. Truly salvation is come to all people.