A writer is quoted as saying, “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.” That would seem to apply to Elizabeth, the woman in advanced years who at long last realized her dream of giving birth to a son, John the Baptist. I was struck by the depiction of her face in the statue of her meeting Mary at her home in Ein Karem near Jerusalem. There were dark circles around her eyes. There was a deep sense of character chiseled into her face. There was a knowing quality in her expression that she somehow saw things that the rest of us cannot yet see. As I looked carefully at her face, I saw profound layers of wisdom. After reflecting upon the life and face of Elizabeth, a better saying for her and for all of us is: “It’s never too late to be who you always were.”
The name Elizabeth means “God’s promise.” For Elizabeth, the promise of God was not of a child to be born to her at long last. It was the hope of a new kingdom to be realized for all of us.
Elizabeth was a descendant of Aaron, the first priest of Israel. She was married to a priest named Zechariah, and there was a priestly quality about her. Despite being without children, which was seen as a sign of being out of favor with God, Elizabeth lived faithfully with total devotion to the Lord. God’s promise to her was not about being blessed outwardly, but was instead granting her an inner peace in the certain knowledge that the kingdom of God is coming. And Elizabeth was open and available to however, whatever and whenever God may have called her to be part of bringing about this new kingdom.
Elizabeth was aware that the real promise of God is to be present with us always and to be coming to us always. She saw in Mary that God was not only giving birth to a son, but was giving birth to the promise of a new kingdom. Elizabeth also realized that she was not only giving birth to a prophet, but to the prophetic voice that had always been inside her.
The work that God began in the meeting of these two expectant mothers continues today.
There is something new being born in all of us. It may be a child, but it may also be a dream, a hope, a promise. And this birth is taking place not just over nine months, but over a lifetime of living faithfully and growing in wisdom. It is a birth that is not just happening to one of us, but to all of us. Like the meeting of these two expectant mothers, this birth happens in community.
What a WONDERFUL and very holy Reverie, Paul! Thank you.
Paul, this served as a wonderful reminder that where ever we are in life's journey, we have an opportunity to be what God hopes and what we seize as opportunities.
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