The next day was certainly the quietest since we started out weeks ago. Jesus was getting better at climbing, more muscular and tanned. He seemed determined to reach the top as soon as possible. I imagine that He was longing for the days before His incarnation when as part of the Spirit Godhead the heavens were His home, the days before suffering and death ever crossed His holy mind. (I am probably projecting my own feelings here.)
As the sun was setting Jesus appeared exhausted and crawled into a small cave where He soon fell into a very deep sleep. Assuming my post at the entrance I tried to rest too by clearing my mind of all thoughts and my heart from all feelings. Unexpectedly, I saw an archangel approaching. 'Thank God,' I thought. Finally Michael has arrived! I was never so relieved to see him as now. I wondered what took him so long.
As the archangel drew nearer I realized that it was actually my old friend Gabriel.
"Gabriel! Welcome; what are you doing here? Where is Michael? I have been waiting for him. We need his help. There are demons everywhere taunting Jesus, and the devil has shown up twice."
"Sorry to hear that but you must come with me now, quickly. Don't fret, Michael will be here soon. Let's go!"
I hesitated, not wanting to leave The Lord while He was sleeping, but Gabriel was insistent. I looked over to see on the horizon a flock of angels heading our way to replace me.
After watching Jesus struggle day after day, flying never felt so good. I even tried a few figure eights, and my favorites, the spirals.
"Stop that, and fly straight, I don't want to be late." barked Gabriel.
"Where are we going?" I snapped back. "And why did you wait until the last minute to come for me?"
Gabriel and I were communicating telepathically while flying at jet speed. "I was just told to come for you. We are going to visit the young maiden Mary, whom God has chosen among all the women in Israel to become the mother of His Son. I must ask for her consent."
I laughed heartily and for a long time. "Do you mean to say that the man I just left snoring in the cave has not yet been conceived in the Brides year? I LOVE IT."
"Before you laugh your head off," explained Gabriel, "let me explain that human development in the womb requires nine months of time, or nine full moons. To affirm Jesus Christ's humanity, the Bride must use lunar time to celebrate His conception. March 25th is nine months before Christmas. So what you see as playing with time is actually going back to real-time. You are coming from the twilight zone of the wilderness journey."
Together the Archangel Gabriel and I, the lowliest of angels, slowed down upon our approach to Nazareth. "Here we are; be quiet now I need to concentrate." requested Gabriel.
Indeed, there she was, a delicate maiden flower hardly what you would call a woman. She looked so much younger and even more sweet and innocent than the young mother I had met in Bethlehem on Christmas Day three months ago.
I could see that Gabriel had to concentrate to make himself visible again. How I envied his ability to go in and out of human form, well, not fully biological, but visible nonetheless. It was the best of both worlds.
By the time we landed in Nazareth, Gabriel was in full archangel regalia. Light radiated from him like the sun on a shimmering spring morning. I moved invisibly behind him down the marble streets of the city until we spotted the young maiden alone fetching water from the town well.
I winced as Gabriel announced his presence, concerned that fright would overcome the doe. "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." He proclaimed as a trumpet with words.
Instantly Mary looked up at us, but only seeing Gabriel, she smiled with gentle curiosity. I wondered why I was more surprised than this maiden at the sight of this large regal archangel. Gabriel explained later to me that Mary had been warned in a dream. Instead of fear, she was perplexed, for she had not been told in the dream about the reason for the visitation.
Mary looked at Gabriel curious and eager to hear what he had to say. His silence provoked her to speak first. She said, "Hello your majesty, to what do I owe the honor of your visit? What have I to offer such an eminent servant of my Lord and my God?"
I looked up at Gabriel to see how he would respond to such a delicate flower. Gabriel headed right for the point. "Beloved maiden, you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a Son, and you will name him Jesus." He paused to let that message soak in before proceeding with the most fantastic part. Mary looked at Gabriel patiently but wide-eyed, in full command of her emotions.
"He will be great," continued Gabriel, "and will be called the Son of the Most High, and The Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end."
At this astonishing proclamation, Mary matter-of-factly replied to Gabriel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?"
I was glad that no one could hear me chuckle. What innocence, what beautiful spirit this girl displayed.
As to a child describing how to make green from yellow and blue, Gabriel replied in a straightforward way, as with a doctor's bedside manner, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God."
There, he said it. The most phenomenal outrageous message that any human could be given fell upon the ears of a barely grown child, carefree and pious. I suspect that if Mary had been any older or more worldly, this announcement could not have found its way into her heart and psyche. But she was not so mature and vitreous. She was still a soft and thirsty sponge willing to learn the deep mysteries of God's cosmic universe, as if the mysteries were simply more lessons that life had to teach her, like the difference between good and evil.
I gazed at her face to read her mind. How will she accept this awesome use of her very body? Would she freely turn it over to Him, or would she have more questions or even make requests of conditions and costs for the loan of her form.
To bless her with a companion, older and wiser, but just as pregnant Gabriel added, "And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”
I did not think Gabriel needed to add that last line. What an overstatement after the miracle of a virgin conception. But I thought it was particularly poignant how God paired an old woman who had longed for pregnancy with this young lady full of grace for which child bearing came too soon.
Then as an unblemished ewe lamb, like the little lamb who rushed up to Abraham moments before he was about to sacrifice Isaac, Mary delivered her decision when she said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
Can an angel hug a maiden? How I wanted to rush over to her and fold her under my wings, and take her for a ride around the stars. Instead, just as abruptly as we arrived, Gabriel looked at me and said, "Our work is done here. You have seen the conception of both the Son of God and simultaneously His beloved Bride. I need to get you back to the wilderness, Jesus is about to wake up." I said goodbye but wasn't sure if Mary heard me. Deep in thought, she did not look up to see us go.
Then Gabriel and I promptly left Mary at the well full of grace and with child, wondering how she would tell her parents Joachim and Anna, and oh yes! her betrothed, Joseph, the good news.