All posts by Emajain

The Girl Who Said No to an Angel

She was singing again!
Down there in the sun-drenched courtyard next door.
The sweet sounds had woken Leah from a fitful sleep.

She opened the shutter with irritation and looked down.
There she was, hanging heavy linens on a line to dry.
Her hair flowing loose about her, glinting golds and ambers in the morning light.
What right did she have to be singing?

She caught snatches of the words – “He hath exalted the humble and the meek” she sang, standing with her arms raised as she hung out her washing.

Leah could clearly see the girl’s face, glowing with joy as she sung to her Lord.
She didn’t look humble and meek to Leah; she looked self-satisfied and a bit simple.

But who would have thought it?
Pregnant and unmarried at just fourteen, yet old Joseph next door had believed her; believed that the young girl he had taken in to look after his motherless infant son and his older boys was miraculously pregnant without ever having
known a man.

Even though Leah knew Miriam’s story was the truth, she didn’t see how anyone else could possibly believe it.

“He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts”, Miriam sang.
Well, that certainly seemed to be the case.
By rights, the imagination of Joseph’s heart should have seen him bundle Miriam unceremoniously out of his home and branded her as a harlot, unfit to care for his children. She should be begging on the streets.
But instead there she was, arms upraised to the Lord, signing her heart out in the shimmering sun, enormous belly protruding proudly for all to see.

Leah lay down on her bed and tears stung at her eyes.
Joseph had believed her!

The angel had said there was “no need to fear”, but how could a girl possibly not fear being humiliated, ostracised and left to starve?

How had Miriam believed the angel when Leah could not?
The angel had said to her, “Do not be afraid, Leah; you have found favour with God.”
Do not be afraid? Of course she was afraid! She had been terrified.
She had begged, “No, not me!” and told the angel to find someone else.

Had the angel been making his way down the street? Was Miriam the very next girl he visited?
How many others had said no and sent the angel away?
But apparently Miriam had meekly said “I am the Lord’s servant” and that was that.

But oh, it seemed so unfair!
If Leah had known that everyone would honour the pregnant maid and call her “blessed”, then she would have said yes to the angel, just as Miriam evidentially had. But how could she have known?

It was the most shameful thing imaginable for a girl to carry a child when unwed.
Her family would not keep her and she would live like a dog in the streets, begging for crusts.
Nobody would employ her to work in their home as her shame would reflect upon their own honour.
If she survived until the child was born, it was unlikely to be born alive, and if it was, then what?
Another tiny pair of hands begging in the market place?
What woman in her right mind would have said yes to such a proposition?

Oh sure, it was all very well for an angel to say “Do not be afraid”, but seriously, what sort of an idiot would not be terrified?

Leah moved to the window again and looked down.
Miram was still in the courtyard, simply standing still and looking heavenward.
She saw the movement in the window and smiled, a huge, beaming smile, and waved.
“Leah!” She called out, “I am just about to take some honey cakes out of the oven. Please, do come and breakfast with me.”

Yes, radiant; that was the only word to describe this glowing young maiden.
Simply look upon her would melt the hardest heart and bring joy to the soul.

Leah’s jealousy evaporated instantly.
She waved, smiled and called out “I’ll be there in a moment”.

Closing the shutter, she said “Bless her, Lord, for she is truly blessed, and I give you thanks that I may call this most beautiful and precious girl my best friend”, and she ran down the stairs to share breakfast.

It hurts you to kick against the goads

It takes a certain kind of stubbornness to ignore God.

God prods,
God pushes,
and sometimes God kicks us in the bum.
Yet so often we resist.
Expending more energy by our resistance
than God would ever have been required of us,
if we had been willing.

There is work to be done.
I can do it grudgingly,
or I can do it willingly.
God gives me that much choice at least 🙂

We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ (Acts 26:14)

Written for my Godmother, Vee

When Peter Showed Me an Angel

The photo above was taken by my father, a great and highly respected horseman.  It is of the Silpark fox hounds at Ashbourne, South Australia.
He called it “Full Cry”.

Towards the end of his life my father was in a nursing home.
I went to see him a couple of days before he died.

Dad’s decline had been quite fast and the two previous times I had visited that week him he had been unresponsive,
lying flat on his back,
breathing slowly through his mouth,
his face a pale grey colour.

I was not expecting any difference on that last day and I had just been talking to the nursing staff who said it was unlikely he would show any further sign of consciousness.

But as I stood at the door of his room I was very surprised by what I saw.
Dad was not lying still.
He had raised his shoulders from the bed, |
his face was flushed pink,
his eyes were open and sparkling,
and he was talking,
with animated hand gestures and
indistinguishable words
to someone I could not see.

The right corner of Dad’s room was not visible from the door, but I had the impression that the person he was talking to was in that corner and there was a bright golden light coming from that spot.
I stood and watched for several moments,
because it seemed rude to interrupt.

Then, as I walked into the room, the light became normal.

I expected to see another visitor in the corner of the room, but there was nobody there, however Dad’s attention was still focused in that direction.

When I spoke to him, saying hello, he was reluctant to focus on me but eventually sort of shrugged his sholders and rolled his eyes as if to indicate to the person he was talking to tht he was sorry to break off their conversation, but he had to talk to his daughter now.

As he focused on me,
I asked him how he was
and he replied
“at peace”,
and closed his eyes.
He never spoke again.

As we were preparing for his funeral our Parish Priest, Peter, asked me if I wanted to view Dad’s body.
I have seen a lot of dead people, but even so, I said no.

I wanted to remember him
as I had seen him last ;
face flushed
with joyful anticipation,
eyes sparkling
with a dream of peace
with the past.

So I told Peter about that last moment when Dad had spoke, and his response changed my life.

Peter said:

“There are always angels hovering at that time”

and he explained to me that he believed Dad was talking to an angel when I saw him.

Perhaps, if Peter had seemed like some sort of religious nutter, I may have taken his words with a grain of salt.
But here was this intelligent, composed, sensible and sincere man talking to me about angels. I had to sit up and take notice.
I had to learn more.

And so began my faith journey,
as I began to notice the angels myself.

(for Peter. 2009)