In these or similar words ...

Dear Jesus,
Thank you for again showing me the photo album of your family. It’s a little different, praying this way, and I can feel myself being self-conscious. Be with me in this. Let me feel it bringing me closer to you.

I picture Elizabeth and Zechariah struggling to have children and finally giving up. How hard that must have been for them! Did they pull together and hold each other in their pain? How did they handle it within their marriage? Then, years later, an angel appears and tells them they will have a child.

Then I look at Mary and Joseph. She was so young. I see her laughing in the kitchen, stirring up her soup by the stove, entertaining her friends with her stories. Is that where you learned to tell stories — from your mother? Then I see her — this vivacious woman with the infectious laugh — standing in an empty kitchen when the angel appears. “Will she be the mother of God?” I watch with surprise as she struggles. She knows it will turn her life upside down! Does she really want to complicate her life this way? She just wants a simple life: to cook for her friends, to marry Joseph, and to pray at the synagogue each week. Yes, she wants to live her life for you, God, but does it have to be so hard?

It never occurred to me that Mary would struggle with this. I thought she just smiled beatifically and the decision was over. But I watch her struggle with her fears and pray to God as she always does when she is afraid. Her fears melt. Of course, if this is what God wants for her, she will do it. And there she is, still standing in the kitchen, the soup still bubbling on the stove. She looks calmly and directly at the angel and says, “Yes.”

I wonder at the power of this kind of prayer before you, Jesus. I watch as your mother becomes a real person to me. I watch her say yes. Then I feel myself getting self-conscious about my own prayer. Maybe my imagination is running away. Then I do the same thing Mary does. I’m getting afraid and so I pray to God. Slowly the fear subsides.

I’m not sure I ever saw your mother as a real, live person before, Jesus. I see her say yes and I wonder about the yes in my own life. I want to know you better and to make my life more like yours. I want to be open to the messages you send, even if your messengers aren’t wearing wings and halos but are the people I see every day in my life. Dear Jesus, help me to recognize the messenger. Help me to listen to the message. Most of all, help me to say yes.
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