When the day began, all the young girl knew was that she was content.
She was very, very happy. Only very recently had the handsome carpenter made an offer of marriage. Of course, all the terms had to be discussed with her father, but once the men had hashed it out between themselves, she and her mother had happily begun planning ceremony details and word had to be sent out to extended family members. Nothing but bliss seemed to lie ahead of her.
She got up early to begin her chores, in the hopes that she could use her free time to visit her lover on her way to the market. Picking up her broom, the girl began sweeping out the dust and small insects that had congregated on the dirt floor of her family residence during the night. Humming softly as she worked, with clouds of dust swirling about her slim form, it was not until many moments later that she noticed something had changed.
It was not a definable change. It seemed as though the air itself had shifted. The girl stopped sweeping, leaned her broom on the table. She glanced at her arm, and noticed with rising anxiety that the hairs on her arm were standing. And then, without a shadow of a doubt, she knew that someone was in the room with her.
She moved slowly, not wanting to startle her silent visitor into attacking her. Her eyes located a stout clay pot, and she bent to grasp the handles as though she were simply going to move it. And then-
The girl whirled around, arms raised, pot ready to crash on the intruder’s head. But this was no ordinary intruder. It was a man, neither young nor old, with golden hair and a snow white robe. As he stood, the dust clouds danced precariously close to his clean robe, but somehow the dust never managed to land and soil the cloth.
Not yet willing to release the pot, Mary lowered it to her chest and stared with frightened eyes at the man. But there was no furtiveness, no indication of evil about the man. He radiated an air of benevolence. Mary found herself calming, soothed by his presence even though she did not know him.
“Mary?” the stranger said presently, with a voice like a sunbeam.
“Do not be afraid.”
Mary found herself setting the pot next to her feet.
The man continued. “I bring you good news.”
“Who are you?”
“My name is Gabriel. I am an angel from God.”
Mary had nothing to say. The man was either trying to trick her or was mentally unstable. But she let him go on.
“I congratulate you. You are going to give birth soon, Mary. To a son.”
“Give birth? But I-I haven’t even gotten married yet! How can I possibly have a son?”
“This will be no ordinary child. He is to be the Savior of all mankind. He is the Messiah.”
Mary put her face in her hands and rubbed it slowly, then looked up. Gabriel was still there.
“His name will be Jesus, and he is the Son of God.”
“But how -“
“Trust in the Lord, Mary. He will guide you.”
Bewildered, Mary watched as Gabriel faded from view. She tried to move, and found that she was sitting on the ground. As she got up, she was again aware of a change. It was not an external change, like how she had felt when Gabriel had arrived. She had the sensation that something was shifting within herself. Suddenly remembering the angel’s words, she placed a hand on her belly, and gasped in shock.
Mary was with child.