On Saturday, I drove from Columbus to Dayton in a wicked rainstorm, the kind that involves giant blinding sprays of mist flying off tractor-trailer trucks; and cars that whizz by as if they were speeding to a hospital. It was a tense white-knuckle trip. I had hoped to spend some easy quiet time in the car to contemplate my blog topic that was coming due. Instead, I kept reminding myself just to breathe.
I safely arrived at a clay supply shop— a heaven for potters, offering every tool, gadget, glaze, clay, book, or equipment you can imagine. A small Home Depot for potters. My mission was to purchase clay (200 pounds), find a liner brush I needed, and talk about a project I am thinking about with Erin, the owner, who stood behind the counter.
We talked about brushes and underglazes, and a workshop I might attend, and the subject turned to her due date — I realized Erin is pregnant, due in April. Then I saw it. Her glow. You have probably seen this in pregnant women too, or maybe you have experienced it yourself as a mother. Women who glow have a wonderful and mystical light within them. Erin was glowing as she anticipated the day she would give birth. I felt gifted by her light. I thought of Mary: My being proclaimed the greatness of God and my spirit finds joy in God, my Savior. Joy, the authentic expression of God with us. That is what I experienced in Erin.
Frequently in religious art, this glow is depicted with Mary surrounded by light. This special glow, this captivating energy and light, accompanied Mary and Elizabeth as they shared a precious few months together. Mary came to visit and to help Elizabeth in her pregnancy. What did they talk about? Did they smile together as they described to each other the reaction of Joseph and Zachariah to the news of their pregnancy? Mary probably did the heavy lifting of firewood, or carried water from the well for her elderly cousin. Did she milk the goats for Elizabeth? Elizabeth might have shared with Mary some of her kitchen secrets. Two pregnant women— whose life inside was mysteriously given and known to be of God—talking about herbs and spices.
When did Zachariah notice the glow in Elizabeth when her pregnancy began to show? Did the innkeeper see the glow in Mary when she and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem looking for shelter?
Would we be here if it were not for the power of the relationship between these two women centuries ago? Would Mary have had the courage and capacity to be the mother of Jesus if she did not have the companionship and wisdom of Elizabeth? Elizabeth, who, in a much more hidden and secondary way, was pregnant by the same kind of miracle. An old woman, who probably had given up on having children thinking to herself —what had she done that God would give up on her? Then she felt her child kick when Mary appeared at her door. Joy!
Two women —who glowed with inner light, basking in the joy of knowing God with them —two women who changed the world. So a word for this Christmas Season could be: never underestimate the transformative power of these two women, whose trust in God reaches across centuries inviting us to the same faith, the same trust that God is with us. May you glow this Christmas.