Light, flowing locks of curly hair. Peaceful expression on her face. Serene. I can’t relate with her like this. I can’t draw strength from these images. I need to see a woman who went before me. I need to know she would have understood my pain if I am going to petition her in prayer. I need to share this sacred space with someone familiar with crying out and swords piercing her heart. I need the real Mary.
Mandates made it impossible to get care when I was pregnant
You see, when I became pregnant with my third baby and second “pandemic baby”, the Hypermesis Gravidarum started when I was just short of four weeks along. I called my husband from the grocery store and told him it was too soon to test, but we were probably expecting very good news: I couldn’t walk through the aisles anymore without becoming so dizzy I had to put my head down.
We tried two different practices to find prenatal care, but I was dismissed from the doctor’s office because I was too sick to wear a mask. I was not even permitted to wear a face shield so I could at least fit the garbage bag under it in time to get sick. No medication. No assistance. Just dismissed into the brisk winter air and told they wouldn’t help me if I did not comply.
My husband drove me home in silence, his eyes helplessly searching the road as if looking for answers. Here we were, living 500 miles from home with a baby on the way and no one willing to help us with medical care. Mandates, censuses, none of it stops and considers a woman with child.
That first Christmas
“Please, my wife…”. I can imagine Joseph pleading with the innkeeper. I can almost see him walking back to his wife as she sits expectantly on their donkey and keeps his head down, trying to hide the stress from her.
I wonder if any of the customers at the inn looked down from their windows and thought, maybe even for a moment, of giving up their place for this young couple? I remember pleading with the lady at the front desk through tears, “Please, I just need medicine.” Shut doors. No room. No exceptions.
I imagine the world felt very cold to that young Jewish girl. I envision what it must have taken for her to compose herself and look on at the stable. Could she smell the manure? Was she embarrassed by the cracks in the wood? Could passersby see in? I’ll be undressed. I’ll surely cry out and attract attention. The animals. Will he be warm enough in this swaddle? I’ve never nursed a baby before.
And then, the Light. The warmth in the night. “The weary world REJOICES! Oh, night! Oh, night divine!”
Her son found her in the dark and cold. He found her among the manure and the hay.. His cries- the voice of the Son- breaks through the darkest night and she is Mama and servant all in one.
The Mary I could relate to
This is the Mary I remembered as I watched my husband convert our bedroom into a space that could safely welcome a baby. This is the Mary I petitioned as I made decisions I never planned on making and experienced a birth I never anticipated happening in my home.
I gaze on a beautiful illustration of her, but I see beyond it now. “Miryam treasured all these things and kept mulling them over in her heart.” -Luke 2:19, CJB. I hold this verse in one hand and in the other, “Shim’on blessed them and said to the child’s mother, Miryam, ‘This child will cause many in Isra’el to fall and to rise, he will become a sign whom people will speak against; moreover a sword will pierce your own heart too. And this will happen in order to reveal many people’s inmost thoughts.” -Luke 2:35, CJB. Mary’s heart, overjoyed at the birth of her firstborn son, would also be pierced with incredible pain and suffering. And still, “Miryam said, ‘I am the servant of Adonai; may it happen to me as you have said.’ Then the angel left her.” -Luke 1:38.
Service. Obedience. Sacrifice. This is the woman behind the illustration. This is the real Mary. This is the Mary I can share my suffering with, the woman I can pray with about mandates and women needing care who are going unserved because of agendas that result in them being seen as nuisances for being pregnant rather than life givers deserving adequate care. I wonder what she would have told that doctor who would not even face me- who told his secretary to tell me to mask up or, “get out of the office”. I wonder what she would think of a healthcare system that places ridiculous mandates over the care of patients?
Mary, mother of our Messiah, pray for us.