This weekend I started reading the gospel of Luke in The Message and I’ve really been stuck on one section in chapter one (verses 23 – 24):
“When the course of his priestly assignment was completed, he went back home. It wasn’t long before his wife, Elizabeth, conceived. She went off by herself for five months, relishing her pregnancy.”
This section is part of the story of Zachariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist. This relatively small passage gives us a snippet into the lives of a high priest and his wife. At the point in their lives when the angel appears to Zachariah they are both old and have never had any children. And the angel appeared at the one point in Zachariah’s life that he would EVER enter the Holy of Holies and tells him he’s going to have a very special son.
Let me say this again, this is one small part of the story of the life of Zachariah and Elizabeth so I think what Luke chooses to share must be important to his point. And apparently their life had been a long, childless, and likely sad and lonely one that may have been defined more by what they weren’t (parents) instead of who they were (both descendants of Aaron the High Priest). Then Luke shares the information I am stuck on: “She went off by herself for five months, relishing her pregnancy.”
She had waited for this her whole life and had likely given up on her dream of motherhood, considered at that time an important sign of God’s blessing on a husband and wife. But when God moved and pregnancy happened, she relished it. She relished right where she was and embraced the season she was in. Like any expectant mother I am sure she thought and dreamed about the life of her future son. It’s possible she didn’t know what the angel had shared with Zachariah because he was mute when he exited the Temple. I am sure she also struggled with some of physical ‘issues’ that happen with pregnancy, especially to older moms. I had my last baby when I was 30 years old and while I know that’s fairly young, I also know there was a huge difference in how pregnancy affected my body at 30 versus 25.
But Luke doesn’t tell us any of that. All he says is that she relished the pregnancy. She relished right where she was in that moment.
This afternoon I dropped my baby, Sophalopes, off at driver’s ed. Let me rephrase that – I DROPPED MY BABY OFF AT DRIVER’S ED! I asked her if she wanted me to walk into the enormous high school building and help her find where she needed to go. She said, “Nope” and practically ran from the car. In fact, I am not sure the car had come to a full stop when she hopped out. And then I pulled over and burst into tears. Simultaneously I was caught between mourning the passing of one season (I was finally promoted out of Middle School after 9 years last week) and rushing headlong into an uncertain future. And I am struggling.
It’s hard to relish the moments we’re in. Some are hard, some are celebratory, some are flat-out horrible. Some are a combination of all of the above. Most moments are completely ordinary, and those are some of the most difficult to remain in. Each moment is a pre-cursor to the next and each one is pregnant with possibility. But no matter what’s happening in any given moment it’s the only one we have. If we are stuck looking behind or can’t stop looking ahead we miss the only moment we can actually experience.
Elizabeth relished her pregnancy. Alone. For five months. And I am asking myself, can I relish right where I am without letting myself be crushed between the weight of the past and the fear of the future?
Just because I enjoy laughing at myself, I’ll give you this little peek behind the curtain so to speak…I decided to experiment with some different writing locales to help me focus so I tried a local bakery/coffee shop today. I put in ear plugs to mute the satellite radio that was playing a little too loud in the background. I could still hear the music, but it wasn’t distracting. Then all of sudden I found myself singing, “Play That Funky Music” out loud. Can anyone hear that song and NOT sing along? I may need to find another spot…or charge admission to the show.