Conception. Gestation. Delivery. What clean words we can use for the messy act of bringing another life into the world.
With my own first-born, it was a struggle to conceive. And then a struggle to carry him due to persistent morning sickness well into my third trimester – which only seemed to end after a threatened miscarriage. And then a struggle to give birth to him as nothing went according to plan. And then a struggle to hold him as we’d been separated for hours by an emergency surgery and I was so tired and he was so small and long and fragile-looking and I was afraid of dropping him. And then a struggle to feed him after a bout of pneumonia and several rounds of antibiotics – and he grew longer and thinner and I felt like a miserable failure at motherhood just a few months in.
So when I read these simple, clean lines from the first gospel, I must admit that I want to roll my eyes and mutter something unflattering about men telling women’s stories:
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).Matthew 1:22-23
It is good news that God’s promises find fulfilment in the birth of Jesus.
It is GREAT news that, in Christ, God is with us – yesterday, today, and always.
But I do wonder if Mary’s feet swelled or what she did in the absence of ginger biscuits to quell her nausea. How she felt having to make the trip to Bethlehem or giving birth far away from home. If she was worried about what this “Son of the Most High” might come out looking like. What she dreamed for his future. If she fretted over what parenting strategies would be best in bringing up the Messiah. Whether she and Joseph quarrelled about this messy miracle that they really hadn’t planned for. How she felt at the foot of the cross on which hope died … and at the empty tomb when hope rose again.
As we continue our faith journey today, I invite you to fill a page with messy thoughts: your ponderings, wonderings, and imaginings of what it may have been like to be Mary, the mother of God.
And maybe you want to spend some time praying for families who find themselves in the messy situations of life where love and hope and joy and peace are hard to find at present.