She knew he could do it, though she couldn’t explain how she knew. After all, he had never done anything like that before, and it wasn’t that she even had a clue exactly what it was that he could do about it. But, bone-deep and soul-certain, she knew it was a problem he could solve. And she knew that he cared. If there was one thing she was absolutely sure of, it was that if she cared about someone else’s pain and need, he cared infinitely more. It wasn’t that he did anything remarkable (well, not that kind of remarkable) or gave wild impassioned speeches, or any of the usual things you would expect, it was more that compassion, glorious, utter and complete, was the air that he breathed and the substance of his being. She had no words for such a thing, but her inmost spirit knew it and was often overwhelmed.
Yes, she knew he could do something, most of all because she knew, better than anyone else who was there, who he was. How could a mere thirty years blot out the memory of an angel, an impossible pregnancy, the fear and the shame, the wonder and the glory? He was from God, born as no other child on earth had ever been born, the child long-promised, the promise to-be-fulfilled. She loved him, she marvelled at him, she was totally confused by him. And now she must ask a favour of him, whether as mother to son, or as suppliant to one who was far above her.
She touched his arm and got his attention. “They have no wine,” she said.
They exchanged a look. “Woman, what does this have to do with me? It’s not my time yet.”
His words might have been reproachful, but she saw the dancing merriment in his eyes, and was unabashed. She slipped aside to the servants and instructed them to do whatever he asked, then drew aside to see what would happen. Sure enough he went over to the servants, and it was evident from their actions that he had asked them to refill the ceremonial jars with water. She wondered what he was doing.
They were huge jars, and it took a while to fill them. She hovered in the background, not wanting to get in the way, but too fascinated to turn aside. So she heard the moment when he instructed one of the servants to draw out some of the water and take it to the master of the feast. What?! And then she, and most of the rest of the room heard the master proclaim that this was the best wine, which, most unusually, had been kept till last!
Her eyes brimmed with tears of wonder. How? Why? But then, as she struggled to understand, the blurring of her tears resolved, just for a moment, into a vision of such solid clarity that she knew it was not of this world. It was another feast, far greater, far grander than anything she could have imagined. She could not see the face of the bride, who seemed to wear faces beyond number, but the face of the bridegroom was the face of her son, shining with a glory that broke her heart, and he was holding up a cup of wine. “Drink this,” he was saying.
Then her sight cleared and they were back in Cana. And she had no idea what it meant. But she treasured these things in her heart, and pondered them, until the day, much later, on the far side of agony, when their meaning became clear.