As I continue to study the Christmas narrative, I continue to discover threads in the story that I've never explored in previous readings. There's so much there!
This is one of the things I love most about the Bible. I keep reading it and reading it and keep noticing facets to the story I'd missed. There's enough in here for me to read for my entire life.
Today I noticed how often Mary hits the road. She travels with Joseph to Bethlehem and then Jerusalem and back to Bethlehem. Then she heads to Egypt as a refugee, Nazareth as a semi-exile, and Jerusalem as a soon-to-be-grieving mother. Legend has it that she spends her twilight years in Ephesus.
That's a lot of mileage for a peasant woman in that era.
But the trip that interested me the most is her first trip that's mentioned. When she finds out she's pregnant, the angel Gabriel also tells her that her relative Elizabeth - after a long struggle with infertility - has finally conceived a child and is pregnant. Mary hits the road and goes to the town in the hill country of Judea where Elizabeth is living in seclusion.
The story doesn't tell us whether Mary went by herself or not, but it noticeably doesn't include any fellow travelers for her (unlike every other travel narrative for her in the Bible).
The story doesn't tell us why Mary went. Did she want to verify the angel's story? Did she want to help Elizabeth? Did she want to commiserate with another miracle mama? We don't know.
What we do know is that Mary lived an unusually mobile life. Her son would spend the majority of his ministry-time on the road. His roots didn't prevent him from going where the Spirit and his purpose led him. I wonder if that is part of the spiritual heritage he inherited from his mother.
I could write another whole post on that concept of the spiritual heritage we pick up from our families of origin, but that's another post for another time.