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.”
Radiant.

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.

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