It is cool and peaceful out here on the hill, under the stars. The summer night folds round me like a cloak and I feel at rest. The love of God wraps around me also, and I wonder what it means.
For hundreds of years, every Jewish girl has dreamt of being the one who would bear the special promised child. But that was a dream, just like every poor village girl, the whole world over dreams of marriage to a rich man of high rank so that she never has to draw water of sweep floors again. We dream our dreams, we say, ‘what if?’, then we settle down and marry our good, sensible husbands, and live the life we always expected to live.
But what do you do when the dreams walk into the living day? What do you do when, one day, in the midst of household chores, a being of sheer glory appears in front of you and tells you that, out of all the girls who have ever lived, all the weary, dreamy eyed, careless maidens who have ever wistfully glanced up at the stars, you, for no possible logical reason, are to be the one who is the bearer of the Promise? Well, I know now. The very first thing you do, once the angel leaves and normal feeling returns to your body, is stand there and say, like every other person who’s ever met an angel, I suppose, is “Why me?” Only later, when you start to realise all the practical implications, do you start to ask, “How am I going to do this?”
Now I wonder both questions all the time. The first three months sped by quickly. My mother sent me off to Elizabeth’s and I stayed for the birth of her John – another miracle baby, though not the same kind of a miracle. At least he is a normal human baby, and they know who his father is. I was so busy there that there was no time for dreaming. And it gave Joseph and my parents time to understand as well. I don’t think my parents knew what to believe till Joseph told them about his dream. Joseph is not the sort of person who has holy dreams; he is the kind sensible village husband that every right-minded girl hopes she’ll end up with in real life.
And now I’m back, and I’m here, and at the end of the day I gaze up at the stars. I remember how Father Abraham was told to look up at the stars. Was he forever wondering, “Why me?” I remember how Father Jacob lay under the stars, with only a stone for a pillow, and saw so many angels. One was almost too much for me, Jacob must have been a very strong person, maybe that’s why he had to wrestle with God Himself before he learned weakness? I am not Abraham, I am not Jacob. I am just a girl whose mother has to remind her to finish sweeping while I stand rooted with amazement that this child could ever come to be.
And I remember the prophet Daniel said something about the wise shining like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness like the stars forever .. I am not a shining star. I am a little household candle, scared some days that a small wind will blow me out altogether. Yet God has placed a light inside me, a brilliant, all-consuming light, not just a star, like the prophets and the fathers of our people, like King David the writer of true songs, or Moses, who met the brightness of God in the desert. We needed those stars while we walked in darkness, and by them we steer our way through the wilderness of living. But when the sun rises? There will be a day, I know it in the very blood of my own body, when this child will be the one who dawns upon the earth, the sun of righteousness that Malachi spoke of, who will rise with healing in His wings. And then we will be healed. But now I wait, under the stars, and count down the months till he shall come.