It was the beginning of an ultimate Mother’s Day, initiated by the fearful and holy presence of an angelic visit. Even more startling was Gabriel’s heavenly announcement. A pure, bewildered, young woman was surprised to hear that she would conceive the Son of God by the power of the Most High.
No, I’m not headed for a re-telling of shepherds tending their flocks by night. So, bear with me.
For some reason (because angels never do anything for no reason), Gabriel left Mary with a odd, parting sideline of information. He revealed that Mary’s relative, Elizabeth, was six months pregnant. That was the other startling news, because Elizabeth was very old and presumed barren. Proof, it seemed, that God could indeed create life miraculously.
As Gabriel left, Mary’s final response was, “I am the servant of the Lord. Let this happen to me as you say!”
Mary’s next response? She went to see Elizabeth.
Was it to make sure that she wasn’t delusional? If Elizabeth was indeed pregnant, then Gabriel’s visit wasn’t just a dream. Moreover, his prophesied words to Mary about her own conception must also be true. Seeing Elizabeth for herself was the one and only way that Mary could check her story. But, curiously, once her relative’s pregnancy was substantiated, Mary stayed with her another three months.
When I was a young woman standing at a crossroads in my life, I was overwhelmed with some new challenges looming in my future. A sweet but strong older lady gave me some advice. In the hushed rasp of an undercover spy, my friend leaned towards me and confided, “What you’re carrying a promise, go to someone who is more pregnant than you are.” With a knowing glint in her eye, she reminded me of those three important months of Mary’s life. It was the crucial time when Immanuel (God With Us) was being formed as flesh and blood. The blessed hope to save the world was growing inside of her, including the little hands that would touch, heal, and…yes, be crucified. We can only imagine Elizabeth’s role in preparing the way for Mary, just as later her son, John the Baptist, would prepare the way for Jesus.
I’ve never forgotten that.
Yes, there is such a thing as “more pregnant”. Logic reasons that you either are or you aren’t, but mothers understand the difference. Believe me, at two weeks past my due date, I felt a whole lot more pregnant than any other woman (or elephant) on the planet.
In this symbolic context, pregnancy represents carrying a promise until it is manifested. It’s about nurturing the vision within and cooperating with internal changes until there is travail and birth. And, like following a guide through a dark forest, one can learn the terrain just by watching the footsteps of someone leading the way by experience. She turns around to offer kind words of encouragement, calming the fear of the unknown. Like an Elizabeth, everything she’s already encountered can prepare a Mary to anticipate and navigate her own journey more smoothly.
I know what seeking someone “more pregnant” is not. It’s not grasping for favors from those with great influence. It’s not an excuse to gratuitously seek connections that will lead to better connections. It’s not an invitation to sap expertise or education from a willing teacher. It is nothing opportunistic and everything humble. It’s reaching for an inner impartation of strength, faith, and grace.
I’ve been mentored by several Elizabeth types over the course of my life. I’m thankful, especially because they seemed to show up with perfect timing, right when I needed them. My vision became clearer, and my steps became surer because of their influence. However, in my writing, I have not had the privilege of finding a close relationship with anyone who blazed the trail ahead of me. Golden authors and poets of the past have paved my heart with inspiration and awed me with their literary excellence. I even write about some of my author heroines in Falling in October, because I link everything I write with what I have seen, read, and heard. Iconic authors, musicians, and artists add a rich flavor to my life because their creativity stirs my creativity. Even more importantly, their passion stirs mine.
I certainly admire contemporary authors, and I consider some of them friends. But I haven’t met a true jungle guide with footsteps I want to emulate. I’ve been aided by those sympathetic enough to offer assistance in Twitter-ology or the complexities of e-book formatting. I’ve liked their page and they’ve liked mine. Yet, truthfully, my personal experience in the publishing world lacks an Elizabeth connection. Maybe that’s why I still feel that I’m stumbling in this arena. It’s not because I’m knowledge-challenged, because knowledge can be accessed. Somewhere inside of me, I think I’m looking for an Elizabeth who is more pregnant than I am.
This realization joins other ongoing introspections about who I am as a woman and an author. Why do I do and for whom? In the introduction to my book, I steadily proclaim, “….it doesn’t matter to me how many other people read my cache of feelings. I’m not worried about the bestseller list or a target audience. This is written to one man who will not be concerned with chapter divisions or my writing ability. When my poetry doesn’t rhyme or fall into perfect meter, he won’t even notice. He’ll just see straight into my heart as he recognizes me as the jagged piece he has been missing from his own picture.”
I’ve always written with purpose…and for love. I can’t diminish this to a marketing venture. Forgive me, but I just can’t. It’s personal. Will it cost me if I don’t cover the gamut of promotional bases? Probably. So, why am I so peaceful about that? Because I’m staying true to myself. My work is out there–getting to that point was the hard part. Beyond that, I’m happy just following the course that is best for me, even if it’s not best for business.
It would be nice to have an Elizabeth in my writing life. I’d love to closely observe a “more pregnant” author who would share her personal admonitions with me. I could discuss my gears of motivation and maybe she could turn her flashlight down my path and show me the next turn in the road. But, regardless, I’ll keep walking. With or without an Elizabeth, my footsteps are making their own imprint on this trail, and experience always brings it’s own wisdom. Maybe the light I find will lead the way for someone else. As we carry our promises, there are always those who are not as pregnant as we are.