The second week and or candle on the traditional advent calendar is about Mary and Joseph and the preparations that they made to get ready for Jesus, which as I read it mainly involved travel. If you read the account of the birth of Jesus in the four Gospels, you will notice that Mary travelled a lot for a pregnant lady. And I can’t imagine donkey travel is comfortable, whether you are pregnant or not.
First she traveled to see her cousin Elizabeth to spend time together excitedly chatting about their babies on the way. I have totally identified with this lately as I have gotten to sit with cousins and chat about babies. Although ours are already here, there is really nothing quite like sharing exciting news with someone who has been a close friend since childhood. There is a bond shared among memories of bikes, camping trips and failed bunny breeding business (yes really) that cannot be copied or replaced. I totally get why she hopped on a donkey to spend time with Elizabeth.
Then when the time came for Jesus to be born she obediently traveled to Bethlehem, where her main squeeze, Joseph’s family was from. Last Christmas I was incredibly pregnant and less comfortable than I have ever been in my life so I opted out of traveling for the Holidays, but Mary didn’t really have a choice because:
1) she was under orders from Caesar Augustus and Roman rulers aren’t super sympathetic to the plight of anyone, let alone women in their third trimester
2) She had a lot of prophecies to fulfill by having her baby boy in Bethlehem, in a manger.
Bonus: After she had Jesus she had to hit the road again to go to Egypt to save her newborn little guy from being killed like all his other would-be peers. Heartbreaking if you let yourself go there…
I’ve have been traveling a lot these past few days which is why you haven’t heard from me, maybe you’ve been packing bags and traveling too. It is certainly not uncommon to do that around Christmas. Travel in a mini van with two little ones is exhausting under the best circumstances. I can’t imagine traveling on the back of an animal while being super pregnant. I had to travel 940 miles in a dodge caravan, and it took me about 16 hours (mostly due to one very long breakfast at Cracker Barrel) Mary and Joseph had to travel 80 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem and there is a lot of speculation as to how long this would have taken, as Joseph walked and Mary rode on the back of her trusty Donkey but most biblical historians say that it would have been slow going and taken about 5-7 days, which makes my 16 hours in a mini van seem like a pleasure cruise, screaming children aside. I don’t know if this is irreverent or not but… how sore must her butt have been?!
The thing is that with all of my reflection I don’t find myself with any pith insight to share, other than the simple face that I identify with Mary more than I ever have. Our need for Family, Strength and God hasn’t changed since since 0 AD and I don’t foresee it changing any time soon. Mary liked to laugh with her cousins, just like I do and Mary drew strength from God in the face of struggle, just like I try am ever trying to do. We always paint her as this figure from long ago and I am finding that the more I consider her story, the more I can feel her Bethlehem get closer.