I woke up early, long before my usual time. I could feel morning coming on as Yeshi slept deeply; still and warm between Joseph and me. He was on my arm, making it numb, but I didn’t mind. I enjoyed these moments of silence and warmth listening to Joseph’s and the baby’s breathing.
I moved my head slightly so that I could listen to Joseph’s heart beat.
I smiled in the dark. This was the day, the day of Yeshua’s presentation in the Temple. It would be the first time we would go to the Temple as a family.
I reflected on all that had happened with this Child so far and pondered the meaning of each event. Sometimes I felt as if he had been born ages before, so much had unfolded in our lives and our understanding since then. Since the day of the angel’s message, so much had given us to think, taken us aback, brought to mind the Scriptures in new ways, and made us wonder about the unfoldment to come. “Lord, in your light, we see light.”
“Our lives have changed forever,” we were always thinking. Every day we thought it again.
The day before this I had completed my ritual purification. I expected it to be different then any mikvah bath I had before, and it was.
I had a sense of intense awareness as I combed out my hair, checked one last time for any dirt under my nails, removed my veil, my shawl, my various articles of clothing, handing them to the attendant, Ruth, one of my childhood friends from my days in the Temple. She would see that every hair of my head fully submerged in the water. She wrapped me in a large, clean cloth to be removed at the last moment, and led me the ritual seven steps to the water.
The water felt warm, safe, freeing as I sank down, crossing my arms over my waist and saying the blessing prayer. Each time I came up, Ruth let me know my submersion was complete.
Each time I dropped into the water, I felt a deep joy, a tender peace, a connection to the Mothers of Israel. Sarah, Rebeca, Rachel and Leah, Mother Debra, Judith, Esther, bless me. I bless you.
After my old friend wrapped me in a warm, clean cloth, I removed to the niche near the mikvah that was set aside for prayer. I prayed for my son, for his mysterious life and mission. I prayed for my husband and myself that we may be for him all that the Lord wanted us to be. I prayed for my people Israel, whose mother, I realized suddenly, I had become.
Outside in the sunshine Joseph and Yeshi were waiting for me. It was so nice to be able to hug Joseph again after a week of the purification, when we were obliged by law not to touch at all. He was happy, too. And we were excited about Yeshi’s Presentation.
Looking back on my purification ritual, I think the Holy Spirit, Whom I was getting to know more and more; the Giver of Life and the Spirit of Love, was very near to me in the water, infusing my heart, guiding my prayers, giving me strength and peace and joy. As the events of the Presentation unfolded, I surely needed those gifts.
At the Temple, all was in readiness. Joseph had taken care of everything, even giving me a small step stool he made for the occasion so that I could see over the men’s heads and watch.
Perhaps our son’s would be an ordinary consecration like that of any other first born son of humble people on any other day in the Temple.
As my eyes met Joseph’s the thought passed between us that we had clearly learned that with this Child anything is possible. But nothing overtly mystical happened as the ceremonies proceeded without interruption. Only Joseph and I knew the glory of the Lord which had filled the Temple since our son’s arrival. Only we knew; or so we thought.
Dear old Simeon not only recognized me from my days in the Temple as a girl, but he recognized Yeshi as the long awaited Messiah. He asked to hold him, was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to prophesy in song. We had become used to this sort of thing, though awe still gripped us.
Then amid the recognition, the gracious praise, the amazement and gratitude, we heard stinging, world stopping words about Yeshua, who would be a stumbling block, who would be rejected! About me, a sword was to pierce to my heart, the secret thoughts of many being revealed… I didn’t understand. I was in shock. So was Joseph. I glanced at him, saw the horror on his face.
I looked at Yeshua, wanting to take him and run, run from everything, protect him, protect Joseph somehow. I resisted a sudden urge to scream, “No! It isn’t true!” I couldn’t say that because at the same time I knew it was true. It was true. All of it. True.
Simeon put little Yeshi in my arms, laid a steadying hand on my shoulder, and one on Joseph’s. He is kind, so kind. He would never hurt or frighten us if it were not necessary and a message from the Lord.
We prayed in silence together.
I promise you, Yeshua, whatever this sword is, I will never leave you. I will follow you to the end. I will support your mission, no matter what may come.
I felt like my heart was already bleeding. I could only tremble, feeling hot, then cold, then hot, my heart pounding sickly as we heard the praise for Yeshi from Anna the prophetess.
Flashing across my mind were interior visions of angry crowds, whips, bruises, hateful voices, cruelty, blood, betrayal. I shudder. Joseph shuddered too, having seen the same thing in his own gentle, fatherly soul.
He took my hand. We both remembered, we have given our lives to God, and we will love this child and one another to the end. We will live for God and for the salvation of the people; the salvation the angel said would come. It would come.
We were made for this moment.
Still my mother’s heart revolted in terror.
As we left, I asked my husband tremulously,
what do we do?”
“What do we do?” he asked thoughtfully. “We love. We walk on.
That is what we do.”
Yes. What else is there?
I smiled and squeezed his hand.
We love, we walk on.
And for years to come, that is what we did.