They waited many years for her to be born, and when she finally came into being, she was born from a scene of blood and horror. Not that there was any other way she could have come – not with that promise, not in this universe. She was born in the darkness, in the middle of the day, when the terrible spear did its piercing, tearing work, and the blood and the waters of her birthing poured forth, and the world was shaken. She came from the very flesh of the one who would one day be her husband – but is that really so surprising? Wasn’t it also true of the very first bride of all?
For fifty days she was hidden from the world, a newborn creature, learning how to walk in the gentle darkness, washed clean by the death of death and prepared for her great baptism. Then the day came, the great festal day, and her Lord had gathered together people from all the surrounding nations to be the witnesses of her coming forth. And he prepared her to face the world with the fire of his presence and the great wind of his coming. She was borne forth by the power of the first whisper of the promise of his love, and that power released in her the ability to speak, and so she went forth, and stood among the very people she had hidden from before, and spoke of her beloved in tones of wonder. There were some among those who had travelled from the east and the west who were amazed, and moved, and changed by her words, and from that day she started to grow.
But she was still weak and small, and seemed defenceless, and there were those who, being of the same mind as Pharaoh and Herod before them, thought it would be easy to destroy her while she was young and helpless. And some hated her because they were jealous, and thought that she had come to steal the Bridegroom’s love from them; and others hated her because they had first hated her Bridegroom, and they would not acknowledge that they had already done their uttermost to destroy him, and failed completely. And so they harried her, and persecuted her, and in her own strength she would have died. But the more they hurt her, the more closely and desperately she clung to her Beloved, and the more she was transfigured by his love, and those who had eyes to see trembled at her beauty, and she grew, and was strengthened, even as her enemies sought to cut her down. And the Great Dragon gnashed his teeth, and abided for his moments of attack.
And in the great lust of his malice he conceived another plan, and as the years passed, and she hungered for her Bridegroom’s coming, fretting because she had not learned the patience of eternity, there came another kind of enemy, armed with terrible cunning, for this one did not seek to murder the bride but to seduce her, and turn her heart away from her Beloved, who was the very reason she existed in the first place. And sometimes they almost succeeded, but then her Beloved would pull her back to him again, and she would still survive.
She still waits. The years have been long and weary, and the mud of the world sticks to her. She is tattered and ragged, there is blood on her hands, and often foolishness in her heart. And the world glances at her with contempt or indifference, and walks on by. Only some see the beauty of her Beloved shining through her exhausted eyes. Yet she waits for him, for he has promised that he will return, and his promises never fail. He has gone now to get her home ready for her, and when all is complete he will come back to fetch her. Their wedding will be the consummation of all history, and their great wedding banquet will be the beginning of the marriage she has longed for, and her Beloved has bled for.
And on that day, face to face with her Beloved, she will be transformed. The garish robes and smutty bandages of this world will fall away to nothing, and she will stand there radiant, pure, perfect and complete. She will wear the white robes of his perfect righteousness, and her face will reflect back to him his perfect love. Her tears will be wiped away, and she will be beautiful beyond description. And her bridegroom will say to her, “Enter into the joy of your Lord,” and she will do so, and never go forth again. And her glory will never fail.