I sit across from you on the chancel pew and tug at the hem of my alb, carefully straightening the long white tunic.
I look up and our eyes meet—you gazing out at me from your textile window: quiet, serene. To your right, Fr. Martin stands before the congregation, nimbly weaving together the strands of the lectionary. But I’m still watching you.
You’re crowned in red and yellow flora that radiates in interlacing patterns from your halo. Your hair is twisted up beneath that transparent white veil. You gently cup your hands beneath the dove that flutters at your chest.
You meet my gaze steadily, easily—apparently undisturbed by the dove.
Were you always so serene?
Is this how you felt the day the angel arrived in all its ghastly ethereal glory to announce God’s Favor? Or what about the first time a month passed and you didn’t bleed? Or when the baby-bump began to show and you knew you had to tell your fiancé? That angel might as well have asked you if you wouldn’t mind being stoned.
Did you think about any of that before you said yes? Not to a ring, but to a red letter.
Behold, you said, I am the servant of the Lord. May it be to me as you have said.
Those words weigh heavy on my spirit. I want to speak them, to invite him in me too, and yet—
If I invite Christ to be birthed in me, what will he require?
When I plumb beneath the self-protective layers of pious costume, I don’t find your gentle acceptance. Instead I find the arrogant accusations of the Grand Inquisitor: Why, then, art Thou come to hinder us?
I am afraid of the severity of His Favor.